George Pertesis is the Co-owner of Truly Greek, a restaurant that embodies authentic Greek cuisine in Norwalk, Connecticut. He also operates Urban Greek, a fast-casual restaurant that brings the taste of Greece to the people of Shelton, CT. As a Greek American, George’s passion for the restaurant industry has allowed him to create a valuable presence for Greek cuisine in American daily life.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- George Pertesis shares what he is most passionate about in the hospitality industry
- How to adapt your business in a modernized world
- George’s insights on maintaining efficiency and quality in a multi-unit business
- What are the biggest challenges for expanding a restaurant?
In this episode…
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen welcomes George Pertesis, Co-owner of the Truly Greek and Urban Greek restaurants in Connecticut. They discuss representation and variety in cuisine, the most rewarding aspects of working in the hospitality industry, adapting your business to modern requirements, and overcoming the challenges of expanding a restaurant. George also shares his favorite tools for maintaining quality and efficiency in a multi-unit business.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- George Pertesis on LinkedIn
- Truly Greek
- The Simple Greek
- Urban Greek
- Toast POS
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode
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Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here co-host for this show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn Series. SpotOn has the best-in-class payment platform for retail, and they have a flagship solution called SpotOn Restaurant with a combined marketing software and payments all in one. They have to serve everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom-and-pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help b2b businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and one of those great relationships with clients referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to rise25.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. George Pertesis is co-owner of Truly Greek in Norwalk, Connecticut and Urban Greek in Shelton, Connecticut. He is 100% Greek American, which plays a big part in his upbringing in the restaurant business. He loves what he does and how the landscape of the restaurant industry has changed over the last few years. Hey, George, thanks for joining me today. How are you?
George Pertesis 1:26
Thank you. It’s my pleasure. How are you today, Chad?
Chad Franzen 1:29
Good, thanks. Appreciate your time. Hey, tell me about how you got started in the restaurant industry.
George Pertesis 1:36
So back in 2016, I graduated from Fairfield University. And at the time I was studying for my CPA exam. But there was a there was a TV show called The Profit and Marcus Lemonis was the host. And one of the episodes was he went to a struggling euro concept out in Philadelphia and he gave him an investment in exchange for rebranding everything his way and bringing it nationwide through franchising. And that concept was called The Simple Greek. So when we first saw the episode of My Father, we were very interested because we said, hey, there’s not really much euro concepts like that in America, because most of the euro’s people would find would be at diners or at like a Greek pizza restaurant. So we said, why don’t we do it in the fast, casual way. So we were very intrigued, we inquired about being a franchisee in a Connecticut market. And a few weeks later, we were on board. And we met with Marcus the Monus, who was a very exciting journey, we opened up in 2016. And we did very well for a couple years. And then obviously COVID happened. But that’s a whole nother story. And because of COVID. Essentially, they had to sell the company to another organization, a bigger entity. And because of that, we decided to opt out of that group and rebrand on our own, but definitely something we could discuss in this episode.
Chad Franzen 3:01
Sure, sure. So tell me about each of those places that tell you about Truly Greek and Urban Greek, and what customers can expect when going to each of those.
George Pertesis 3:11
So both of our concepts or build your own. So you can come in and customize your salad bowl or green bowl. And you can do that in a pita sandwich format. So basically, you pick your base, you can choose your protein, your fresh, best vegetables, or sauces, and you customize. So one, one Monday you can come in, you do a sandwich and one Friday afternoon for dinner, you come in and you get a bowl. And we offer a lot of sides like Greek fries, avocado, lemon, OSU spanakopita, desserts, and all that good stuff. And you can find the same at both Urban Greek and Truly Greek. And we also even offer a greek market where we’re bringing in Greek wines from Greece, Greek honey, Greek chocolate. And really, it’s very difficult to source those items. So when people know that they could get it within seconds and delivered to their door. People are very excited about that. Because the big concentration of Greek people you would normally find them in New York City, Chicago, Florida, to being in Connecticut is able to offer those products is definitely a big thing for customers.
Chad Franzen 4:17
How has your your Greek heritage played a part in your restaurant, kind of your restaurant journey?
George Pertesis 4:23
It’s huge. It’s part of who we are. My grandfather specifically came over to America in the 1950s classic American Dream story came here with not much in his pocket started out as a dishwasher at a Jewish diner. And the Jewish owners at the time, which they dominated the diner business. They saw the hard work ethic that my grandfather had and they said, hey, we’d like to promote you to short order cook. And then they saw the potential there and they said why don’t you become a manager? And then the Jewish people were very smart in this area to realize that wow, there’s definitely a lot of potential of these immigrants coming in from Greece. So why don’t you ask your brothers to come? Why don’t you ask your cousins to come? So little by little, my great uncles were coming over their cousins, and they started working in the diner business. And eventually, they started buying out these owners and becoming owners themselves. So growing up, you know, my father eventually inherited the diner from his father. And growing up, I would be in the business. And it was very fascinating to me that they loved what they did. Like they never got the Sunday scaries, are very passionate about serving people, and being in the hospitality business. And that kind of like was passed along to me. And, you know, basically, the diner was always a community hub. Like everyone knew each other lawyers were coming in doctors and regular community, people at nighttime, all the drunk people were come in. And there’s always stories behind that. And a lot of people know you. And it’s like, Hey, John, how you doing? John, the Greek or George degree. And that’s, you know, we like that. And we like serving people. It’s part of our, we call it filoxenia. Which means being opening up your arms to your home or to your business, and treating people like they’re your family. And that’s big for who we are.
Chad Franzen 6:13
How did the Urban Greek come about?
George Pertesis 6:16
So that’s also another interesting story. So I met my wife through The Simple Greek. And she was interested in the show as well. So her my father in law was like, Hey, why don’t you go check out The Simple Greek down in Norwalk, Connecticut. So she came down, I never met her, but she, you know, we message each other, hey, come by, show you the concept. And we were under construction. And at the time, my father-in-law was like, this is a great idea. Actually, he wasn’t my father-in-law at the time, but he’s like, I like this too. Like, let’s maybe do something for my daughter. And then, in 2020, he decided to open up his own version of the fast-casual for his daughter and then remarried. So he was intrigued by the whole thing, and he decided to open up Urban Greek and Shelton, based on what he had seen with The Simple Greek, you know, great food costs, numbers, labor, and all that good stuff.
Chad Franzen 7:09
Hey, how different is the restaurant industry would you say today than it was maybe five or 10 years ago?
George Pertesis 7:16
I’ll tell you about, like, when we first started, we only have like one or two distributors, which was nice. You never have to worry about like, you know, comparing prices week over week and such. But now the difficulty is sourcing anything. Like one week people are out of chicken one week, they’re out of shrimp. So with that being said, you have to have like four or five broadline distributors, on on your cell phone, like, you know, you got to call the guy’s like, Hey, what are you out of this week? And then they tell you, hey, write of this, this and that. So now I have to call the other person up and ask them if they have it. So we’ve been seeing so many shortages. It’s, it’s kind of it’s a difficult thing. And I think it’s not going to get any better. But it will get worse before things turn around. And I think that was the biggest challenge. But more importantly, the best part of the last five years of transformation. Is it technology. You know, we used to be like 80% dining 20% takeout now that’s like 65%, takeout and 35% dining. And I think that’s a good thing for a lot of people, less mistakes, more consistency. And very easy. When you’re working on
Chad Franzen 8:24
what makes it what makes it prone to having less mistakes.
George Pertesis 8:28
That’s mistakes, because everything is written out in front of you make it’s pretty self explanatory. People say, for example, the order Greek fries, and they don’t want the feta. And the instructions it’ll say feta the side and nice big letters. But perhaps in the store once in a while. You know, you have customers coming in, they’re rude. They’re on their cell phone, they’re trying to place orders. They’re asking people Hey, well, what was it that you wanted? And there’s always that confusion in the pita’s forgotten. And the sauce is forgotten on the side. And there’s always that a human error, right? But with technology, everything is straightforward. It’s great. And that goes along with the third party deliveries, the Ubers grub hubs, the door dashes, all that good stuff.
Chad Franzen 9:09
Are there ways that you think the restaurant industry could be more efficient?[Continue to Page 2]