PATERSON, NJ – The Greek company Kontos Foods was founded 31 years ago in Paterson, when Evripides Kontos and his son Steve realized that there was a great demand in the U.S. for Greek pita bread, which until then could only be found in small bakeries around Astoria.
Today, demand remains constant, while the company exports its pita bread all over the world.
Sales have reached such a point that the Kontos family is preparing to build a fourth factory for their frozen foods, which are exported to the Middle East and Asia, South America, and the Caribbean.
The company’s President Steve Kontos told NorthJersey.com that “The Greek cuisine is everywhere, whether you go to Singapore or whether you go to South America. We’ve been talking in Colombia to an operator of four or five Greek restaurants, who has been making the breads he sells by hand because there is no commercial source. There’s demand all over, and there’s no supply, just like there was no supply in this country” [when Kontos was founded.]
Father and son founded Kontos in 1987 while still running Apollo, a phyllo dough manufacturing company also based in New Jersey.
While in Seattle meeting with a customer, Kontos recalls being asked, “Are you from the New York area? Can you get me Greek pita? Get me 200 cases,” NorthJersey.com reported, adding that Kontos then contacted small bakeries of Astoria who could only sell a maximum of 20 cases per day.
“We needed two weeks to collect 200 cases. “We shipped it out to Seattle and my dad and I were like ‘Wow, what a business. Plenty of demand and no supply,’” he told NorthJersey.com, adding that similar requests were coming in from across the country, Chicago, Miami, Denver, “everywhere they found out I was from the New York area, they wanted me to go to Astoria to pick up their bread.”
The company now counts three factories in Paterson, and among its customers are several large chain stores and supermarkets. Because of their location, they can export pita bread of all kinds anywhere in the world. New Jersey’s ports can ship to Middle Eastern and Asian countries from Paterson faster and cheaper than from Greece, NorthJersey.com reported.
Today, the Kontos Flatbread product line has expanded to about 50 varieties, and is widely distributed to restaurants, hotels, country clubs, business and industry cafeterias, and to retail specialty food stores and supermarkets all over the world, according to the company’s website.
Kontos Foods is one of the city’s leading food exporters. At the moment, it employs 300 workers, and in January it was awarded the Faith in Paterson Award for its contribution to economic growth, job creation, and improved quality of life in the city of Paterson, NorthJersey.com reported.
As noted on the Kontos website, “in business, Evripides Kontos is still partnered with his son, Steve. They are joined by several family members who also work at Kontos Foods. In life, Evripides is partnered with his wife of over 50 years, Evangelia. They have three children, Steve, Kathy, and Dino, who have blessed them with seven grandchildren.”
More information about Kontos Foods is available online: kontos.com.