Plotting Growth, Greek From Greece Makes NBA Star Connection
From left: NBA star and new Greek From Greece brand ambassador Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brothers, Alexandros Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
As the founder of Greek From Greece Café Cuisine, Georgios Drosos of course loves Greek food, launching the fast-casual concept in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2017 to bring traditional spanakopita, baklava and kourkoubinia to Americans.
But Drosos, from the Epirus region in northwest Greece, has another affinity, one that thanks to a recent partnership with NBA All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, he can combine with his franchise.
“Besides business, my big love is basketball,” said Drosos, who used to play in Greece before an injury cut his career short.
“This partnership with Giannis is monumental,” he continued of the brand ambassador role Antetokounmpo, known affectionately to fans as the “Greek Freak” for his combination of ball handling skills, size and speed, now has as he promotes the brand. Antetokounmpo, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, was born in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian parents, and in an announcement of the partnership said GFG is giving him the opportunity to share everything he loves in Greek everyday life with America.
“For years I have been looking for a way to go back to Greece at any moment and now I have found it,” said Antetokounmpo.
“He projects what we offer,” said Drosos of perhaps his favorite NBA player. “He projects health. He projects power. He projects excellency in whatever he does and he’s very focused on family. We share the same values.”
Drosos, GFG's CEO, also hinted at Antetokounmpo’s role beyond this initial partnership. “There will be a lot of exciting news coming down the pipeline shortly,” he said. “Giannis will have a multi-role in our brand and he won’t only be in an ambassador and spokesman role.”
Greek From Greece has eight company-owned locations open, mainly in New Jersey and New York, with one outpost in Tampa, Florida. That number includes the two units of competitor Fournos Theofilos that GFG acquired and rebranded earlier this year. Its first franchisee restaurants are opening this fall in Pennsylvania, as Drosos called franchising “the wave of the future for us.”
Drosos, pictured at right, is well-versed in franchising and is a multi-unit franchisee with more than 100 locations in Greece, France and elsewhere in Europe, mainly in the foodservice and retail furniture segments. While at one point early in the COVID-19 pandemic only his flagship restaurant in Hoboken was open, Drosos remained optimistic and said the brand is in “a very good position.”
“We’re not really seeing any numbers close to what we were before” the pandemic “but we’re here for our customers,” he said, adding health and safety precautions are in place to ensure customers and team members are comfortable returning to the stores.
As a franchise concept, Drosos said Greek From Greece is attractive because it encompasses all dayparts but is also simple to operate given that all the products are imported from Greece and there’s a mix of retail items and prepared foods, along with salads and sandwiches.
“We have a concept that is innovative, that’s easy to operate and that a franchisee can realize a return on investment much faster than some other concepts,” said Drosos, though he didn’t disclose any sales figures. “You’re able to operate stores with very minimal staff.”
GFG is working with franchise development firm Fransmart on its expansion efforts. Start-up costs range from $361,800 to $1,425,000; a typical location is 1,200 square feet.