Greeks & Restaurants

(Photo by TNH/Costas Bej)

Growing up in my father’s parish on Chicago’s South Side, I recall a disproportionate number of his parishioners owning restaurants, cafeterias and lunchrooms. My parents, siblings, and I often ate in them. They had distinctively American names such as Majestic, Cosmopolitan, New World but there were   also homages to Greece such as Acropolis and Parthenon.

There was an early period when the quality of meals in Greek restaurants was mocked. The other day I wandered in where angels fear to tread.

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  1. The Greek American historian and academic, Theodore Saloutos, includes in his seminal work “The Greeks in the United States” (Harvard University Press, 1964), information about Greek restaurant and candy store owners in Chicago. It was estimated that one third of all restaurants in Chicago in 1919 were Greek owned. There were at least 200 candy stores in Chicago in 1926 and most of them were owned by immigrants from the village of Tsitsina, near Sparta. Professor Saloutos’ book is easily the most comprehensive reporting of the Greek American presence in the United States from the earliest immigrants until the early 1960s. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about the Greeks in America. It’s long out of print but diligent searching can find copies.

  2. Open any MBA textbook on restaurants and you willsee Greeks do NOT run successful restaurants. What they run is trojan horse tax scams. And thanks to electronic cashless money, they can no longer survive.

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