This week’s spotlight shines on South Florida entrepreneur, Lambros Kokkinelis. Lambros is the founder and owner of Gyroville a fast, casual, healthy “Greek fusion” chain of restaurants in South Florida. Gyroville’s menu is made up of Mediterranean flavors and fresh ingredients, the recipes have been inspired from generations of authentic family traditions. I have an affinity for the small business owner, probably because I have always been one and know firsthand the trials and tribulations as well as the glory moments that come along with putting it all on the line. I interviewed Lambros over lunch recently and it was like sitting with an old friend.
It was the realness of Lambros that struck me most. Here is a man with four successful locations, Boca Raton (2240 NW 19th Street), Fort Lauderdale (6341 N. Andrews Avenue) Fort Lauderdale (1489C SE 17th Street Causeway), Pembroke Pines (11033 Pines Boulevard) and has plans for five more by the Summer of 2012 the locations will be Hialeah, Doral, Plantation, West Pembroke Pines, and Kendall; and he genuinely took the time to sit and chat with me. This CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate is a hands-on owner visiting each of his stores daily making sure everything is running as it should and as planned; so it is no surprise that Lambros’ goal is to take Gyroville nationally as a franchise, from the looks of it, the foundation is quite solid. Let’s find out a bit more about Lambros Kokkinelis, a South Florida entrepreneur to definitely keep your eye on, and eat at his restaurants, which by the way is really good, click here to see a few photos of my lunch with Lambros.
South Florida Food and Wine: You’re a busy man running four retail operations with plans for many more locations, where did the concept come from?
Lambros Kokkinelis: This is my brainchild. I always knew I wanted a fast, casual and healthy chain of restaurants, being of Greek descent I’m very in-tune to Mediterranean style of restaurants out there and there are no Greek themed places doing what I do. The most important part of my concept is that the emphasis is on fast, fresh, and healthy food.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is a typical day for you as the owner of four retail food stores?
Lambros Kokkinelis: I start my days at 6am, I visit all my stores, do quality checks, work the line, and meet with my staff and managers. Usually in the afternoon I visit the construction sites of the new locations, work with architects on future plans, and meeting with product vendors usually rounds out my day.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Lambros Kokkinelis: People. Not getting everyone on the page to realize your dream.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you would like to share a gyro with and pick their brain?
Lambros Kokkinelis: Ray Kroc. He was revolutionary. He knew something that the McDonald’s brothers didn’t.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Lambros Kokkinelis: Pizza with meatballs, ricotta, pepperoni, garlic and extra cheese
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the last place you at, other than your own restaurant?
Lambros Kokkinelis: J. Alexander’s for their ribs. I like the ambiance and the consistency of their food and service.
South Florida Food and Wine: This is not an easy business, what motivates you to be bigger, better, stronger?
Lambros Kokkinelis: This is my dream. I always knew I wanted a multi-unit company. I am living my dream and I won’t fail.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Lambros Kokkinelis: I don’t take a day off. I work 7-days a week, but on Sunday’s I end my day at 3pm and join my family for our weekly traditional Greek Sunday Dinner.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one piece of advice you would offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Lambros Kokkinelis: Know what you want and where you are going. You need to have a plan and you need to be prepared.
Click here to visit the Gyroville website
Click here to read previous Spotlight Interviews