Chances are, if you've visited George's Greek Village, you've had the pleasure of meeting George's "right hand woman", Daniela Goldsworthy, the front of the house Manager of the restaurant.

Daniela's passion for people and bringing top notch hospitality to each and every guest who comes through the door are an integral part of the experience when you enter the front doors, so we thought it would be great to catch up with her and find out a little more about her in this month's Employee Spotlight!

Tell Us a Bit About Yourself and Your Journey Into the Restaurant Business?

I am a mother of 3 children and a grandmother of 8 and spending time with my family and making memories is what it's all about.

My background professionally is the hospitality industry (travel and tourism). I worked in Niagara Falls for approximately 25 years in some of the larger hotels as the Assistant Executive Housekeeper.

Working in the hospitality/service industry definitely has its rewards when you meet people from all over the world.

So How Did This Lead to Working at George's?

I have known George and his family from the days when they owned the Pine Centre Restaurant in Thorold, but it wasn't until 2003 that I actually started working in the restaurant business part-time when they purchased another greek restaurant on Lake Street.

It was in 2014 that a big shift happened in my career though, when the Kountourogiannis family purchased this venue on Queenston Street in St. Catharines.

After many discussions with George and his dad, I not only made the full time transition to this location, but George also asked me to help run the front of the house as the Manager.

What Are Some of the Highlights Since It all Began?

Being part of the journey of George's Greek Village from the very beginning has been wonderful.

Watching this site get rejuvenated from the ground up was incredible and then hearing the positive customer feedback about how they loved the new experience, the amazing food and the service was just great.

Also being a part of the many functions that take so many hours in preparing like the weddings, anniversaries, showers, birthdays, etc. on top of our daily clientele, has been truly rewarding because I know I've been a part of making these important events memorable for people.

To see the end results of everyone celebrating is really something special. Meeting new patrons, returning patrons and the challenges daily are all what makes the job so satisfying for me!

Do You Have any Personal Favourite Dishes?

That's a hard one! I have to say I really don't have one favourite greek dish as I enjoy all of George's dishes including his variety of feature dishes.

(Below, Daniela and George)


What Keeps You Inspired in Your Position at Georges?

I'd have to say being part of such a great team.

Working with George and our entire support staff is really exciting for me and how it all has contributed to incredible feedback from our customers.

It's so exciting to know I've been a part of this new chapter of George's Greek Village that's now become Niagara's new hot spot!

Finally, I would like to say a very big thank you to George as it has been an incredible 3 years at George's Greek Village. I look forward to our future and what it has in store for us. OPA!!

TAKING A CHANCE PAID OFF BIG TIME. A VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE KOUNTOUROGIANNIS

(Main picture: George Kountourogiannis, owner of George's Greek Village in St. Catharines, ON)

Since opening their doors in 2016, Georges Greek Village Restaurant in St. Catharines has been dedicated to bringing the highest quality and freshest authentic Greek cuisine to diners in the Niagara Region.

The journey for owner and chef George Kountourogiannis to this point has been a long but rewarding one. One full of uncompromising hard work, a passion for food passed down through the family and now the satisfaction of owning a successful restaurant that bears his namesake.

It all started just a few short years ago, when the lease expired on George's previous greek restaurant location on Lake Street and he decided to leave it all behind to start fresh at his new establishment on Queenston Street.

In this up close and personal interview, George reminisces about the history of the restaurant, the future and his love for cooking.



Overall says George, "It's been an incredible adventure over the past years. It's been extremely hard work but so unbelievably rewarding. Sometimes in life it's time to move on and I am so glad we did. I wouldn't change a thing and I can't wait to see what's next."

Feeling the Love in February!

February is the month of love and here at George's Greek Village, there was a lot going on that made it memorable!

To start with, we decided to introduce a new event called Galentine's Day, on February 13th. For those that may not be familiar with it, "Galentine's Day" is the nonofficial holiday where "ladies celebrate ladies."

A big thank you to all the wonderful groups of gals who came out to enjoy the evening with us and make our first Galentine's Day Dinner a success!

Below, enjoying each other's company and our featured menu (which included a 3 Dip Platter, Shrimp Souvlauki, Baklava and Thalia wine).
 

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is always a favourite time for our customers to bring the ones they love for a romantic meal. This year we celebrated the night with a packed house and some incredible feature dishes like our Lamb Lollipops Appetizer and Entrees that included: New York Strip and Shrimp topped with a Bearnaise OR Oven Baked Salmon topped with our White Wine and Dill...

 
below; Also, an extra special touch to the night was a proposal! A special congratulations to Steve and Suzie who got engaged at dinner...

Family Day

We can't forget the month of love without mentioning families! Family Day was on February 18th and the restaurant was open so that families could spend quality time with their loved ones with a great meal.

And speaking of holidays and family, we thought we'd share a couple of pictures of George's trip to Greece this month!

The Acropolis of Athens
George's father's village in the mountains
George outside the original family home of his father and a shot of the interior which he hopes to restore...
 
A wonderful pop up street market in Greece (about 5-8 blocks long)
George with his cousin Georgia who lives in Greece

Overall, an eventful month of February, where we definitely felt the love at George's Greek Village!

A Year of Fun, Festivities, Food and so Much More at George's Greek Village

As the new year begins, it always seems like a wonderful time to reflect on the one that has just past...

2018 was memorable at the restaurant for so many reasons. We saw many new (and regular) faces, hosted an incredible amount of special occasions and of course continued our tradition of not only bringing the best greek fare to the table, but experimenting with a lot of new flavours and dishes!

One of the things that is always so special is when a couple decides to celebrate their wedding day with us! Our year started off with a lovely reception in our banquet hall.

Below, a magical moment (January 2018), as the newlyweds' have their first dance as the sun sets and the guests look on...

Our banquet hall hosted many other great occasions and receptions as well including baptisms, First Holy Communions, confirmations, baby showers, meetings, birthday celebrations, retirements, bus tours, a few more weddings, sport teams and the list goes on.

Corporate events were also a big part of our business. Because of our proximity to the Welland Canal it seemed fitting that when the St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened on March 29th that the SLSMC executives from Ontario and Quebec gathered at George's to commemorate this significant event and we were honoured to have them here!

Below, Captain Chesney Thorne tips his hat at Lock 3 during opening celebrations. Thorne's ship, the Algoma Niagara, a 740-foot-long self-unloading bulk carrier, was the first to traverse the Welland Canal upbound. (Photo Credit: Niagara this Week)

With the warmer weather and the water thawed, that also meant that our patio season was upon us again and it was busier than ever out there this year!

We even got to see some celebrities in the mix,

Below, Sandi Richard host of Fixing Dinner on the Food Network Canada enjoys a meal with her family...
The view from our patio this past summer (August 2018)...better than ever.

Another really rewarding thing we get to do here at George's is get involved in the community and this past year was no exception.

One such event was the Pop Up Market for the Niagara Life Centre (a local support organization to assist those in crisis) which was held at the restaurant in March and December. It was not only a lot of fun for us but helped showcase local vendor's wares all in support of a great cause.

Below, the market in action (November 2018), at George's Greek Village where there was a large variety of unique handmade items, jewellery, oils and much more.

Folks who attended the Market also enjoyed lunch or dinner at the restaurant and as always our popular Chicken from the Village dish was a big hit.

Feature Dishes are another thing that really took off this year at the restaurant. Friday and Saturdays George regularly cooked up some magic in the kitchen for guests. One of the highlights was always the Lamb Shank Dinner!

Before we knew it Christmas came and it always is a busy season for us, but also one where we get to make some special treats to celebrate the season.

Below, our famous Christmas Cookies "Kourabes". Made by the one and only George's mom: Mom Toula!

And speaking of family, we have to share the exciting news that George's son Brian officially joined the team in the kitchen!

Below, Brian who has many years of experience working with his dad in the past, is all smiles as he lends an expert hand with the chicken kebobs!

And what better way to wrap up the year in review than to thank everyone who voted for us as the winner of The St. Catharines Standard Readers' Choice for #1 Greek Food Restaurant and #1 Patio in the Niagara Region!

The Holiday Season at George's Greek Village

It's that time of year again when the weather gets colder and the snow starts to fly, putting us in the mood for another beautiful holiday season here at George's Greek Village.

Christmas is a time when tables are set with foods that have become tradition, passed from generation to generation. Foods that bring back warm memories and bring families together to enjoy.

Here at the restaurant, delightful dishes like our homemade Baklava (main picture) are a perfect example of holiday fare that many of our customers enjoy this time of year in particular, even though we serve it all year round.

It's a classic Greek pastry made with crushed walnuts, cinnamon and sugar, layered with delicate filo pastry, topped with our secret syrup. The result? A crunchy and sweet taste of heaven in every bite!

In the northernmost Greek prefecture of Evron in the region of Thrace, a special sesame Baklava is made on Christmas Eve. Since it contains no dairy products and eggs (forbidden during Advent), it can be enjoyed the night before the fast ends on Christmas Day.

Galaktoboureko is another traditional Greek dessert enjoyed over the season. At George's our special vanilla custard and cinnamon layered with delicate filo pastry is topped with our secret syrup that is a must try your next visit to the restaurant. Golden crispy perfection!!
Kataifi (pronounced Kan-ta-EE-fi), is a traditional pastry favourite made with a special form of shredded filo dough which looks like vermicelli pasta. This beautiful dessert is covered with our secret syrup and topped with vanilla cream and is a wonderful addition to any meal, or just as a creamy treat with a hot cup of coffee (or beverage of choice)!
Kataifi - When one is not enough!
And let's not forget about our traditional Greek Christmas cookies, Kourabiedes! Greek Christmas butter cookies are soft and fluffy with a crunchy bite and rich almond and butter flavour. Kourabiedes, (pictured below) will certainly set you on a festive mood! You can purchase them by the piece, half dozen and per dozen.

At George's Greek Village we have so many delicious dishes, from classics that are associated with the holidays in every corner of Greece to regular favorites, and of course our always evolving weekend feature dishes that bring a little art to the kitchen every weekend.

Be sure to call us for reservations for your holiday get- togethers in the coming weeks.

On a final note, however you spend this wonderful time, we want to take a moment to thank our customers for another great year. Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas or as we say in Greek: Kala Christougenna!

THE EVOLUTION OF FEATURE DISHES AT GEORGE’S GREEK VILLAGE

Feature dishes at George’s Greek Village Restaurant have become something special that customers look forward to on the weekends that are not on the regular menu. “It’s all about having something new and different”says owner and chef George Kountourogiannis. “If I can introduce a feature and people love it and it catches on, then I consider it as something that I can hopefully put on my menu. You always want to try something new and see if it works!”

One of the first features George did when the restaurant opened was a pork shank dinner and it went over well… But really, that was just the beginning, because it inspired the idea of making features a regular occurrence. George says that after the pork shank, there was a lot of talk between himself, his food supplier and cook Dimitris who worked with him at the time, and they decided to take it to the next level with a feature lamb shank dinner. The feedback for this feature was incredible,remembers George.
“The lamb shank was crazy. Everyone went nuts over that dish and I have never seen a response like we had for that one and from then on we just tried to make a feature every weekend.” Lamb Shank Dinner has been a huge success as a Feature Dish. The next feature worked on was a stuffed chicken with spinach instead of the roasted red pepper and it became a regular thing that afternoons in the kitchen would be devoted to taste testing new ideas and recipes to delight customers with fresh tastes and experiences on the weekends.
Feature Appetizer: Shrimp Saganaki
For inspiration George says, “I tell everybody to give me ideas and they do.”
After an idea is created, it’s all about taste testing to make sure the dish is perfect and thinking outside the box, although this philosophy goes for everything at the restaurant. “I mean who would have ever heard of simple syrup in a roasted red pepper sauce, laughs George, “and it is so good that people want extra for the side. But I always tell the guys working in the kitchen less is more. Because it can be overpowering and you have to get the right balance.”
Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Feta
George also gets inspiration from the chefs he works with at the test kitchens of Sysco Canada in Woodstock. “I will throw out ideas like, here are five proteins that I want to create some new dishes around and they will take those foods and createsomething. If I like it, I will take the basic idea and make it my own creation.” For example, George took a simple lamb lollipop recipe, added some of his own spices for the breading, sometzatziki, bruschetta and feta and a feature dish was born!
Feature Dinner: Lamb Lollipops
Weekend after weekend many feature dishes have been part of the weekend lineup over the past two years…
Feature Appetizer: Loukaninko
Feature Dish: Striploin and Shrimp topped with a mushroom demi glacé and feta
So, what’s up next on the menu for George?
“Well I’m working on something called pork drummies, they are going to be incredible but I still haven’t got the sauce where I want it yet!” Drummies aside, the features are something everyone can continue to look forward to in the future. Says George, “Iwill continue to do delicious and well-priced features because it’s all about the wow factor for the customers and keeping them coming back for more!”

GEORGES GREEK VILLAGE RESTAURANT – 2 YEARS AND COUNTING!

This past weekend was a time for reflection and celebration for owner George Kountourogiannis, who took a chance that paid off big time when he decided to purchase and revamp the old Frado’s Steakhouse by the Welland Canal and convert it into the modern greek dining establishment it is today. The building went through a huge renovation process initially that took over a year, but the final result was well worth it with its spectacular woodwork features, amazing views and modern facilities.

Inside the dining room at George’s today. Diners enjoy the cozy atmosphere on anniversary night, Friday Oct. 6th 2018…
Cheers to 2 years and Happy Anniversary to George’s Greek Village Restaurant!
The one side of the dining room that winds into 4 distinct sections that form the main part of the restaurant, in addition to the banquet facilities in the back and the outdoor dining space…
Enjoying an appetizer of George’s delicious greek salad before the main course arrives…
Getting ready to dig into the special feature of the anniversary weekend, the ever popular Lamb Shank dinner!
George’s Greek Village is an amazing place for families to dine and have fun!
The back area of the restaurant, which doubles as a dining and banquet area also features priceless views of the Welland Canal with its large picturesque windows…
Lets not forget about that view from the patio! This has been a huge draw for locals and tourists alike as they sit outside and watch the boats pass by. An autumn view from the patio with the Welland Canal and St. Catharines Skyway forming the backdrop…

George’s Greek Village has truly become the Garden City’s recipe for success through the years not only because of the dining facilities and location, but because of the incredible people that make it happen and the food that keeps you coming back for more. Kountourogiannis himself is so passionate about his restaurant that he never takes a sideline to the workings of the day to day business, often spending 15 hours a day in the kitchen, perfecting his delicious dishes before they hit the floor. George’s passion for the business and his ability to embrace hard work is infectious but it has definitely been the wind behind the sails of the unprecedented success that the restaurant has seen since opening. Says Kountourogiannis, “what used to be a line up at the door on the weekends is now one every night!”

Happy customers line up at the door waiting to be seated in the restaurant…
George Kountourogiannis and his staff working hard this past weekend in the state of the art kitchen of the restaurant…

Some front of the house staff take a moment to pose for the camera

A Variety of Dishes Has Continued to Flow Through the Kitchen at George’s Greek Village Restaurant

“Another big part of the success we have seen I believe is because we not only create traditional favourites that our customers love week after week prepared with the freshest ingredients, but the fact that I am constantly trying to develop new and interesting twists on our traditional greek fare”, says George. Below Lamb Lollipops and Lamb Shank dinner. Two of the mouthwatering feature creations George has has come up with that keep customers coming back for more.

Lamb Shank Dinner
Lamb Lollipops

A Winning Combination

Says George, “we have always believed in “good food, good portions, good service at a good price” at the restaurant. I take care of the food aspect and it is my right hand woman Daniela who is in charge of the front of the house and makes sure everything runs smoothly for our customer’s dining experience”. Daniela in the main dining room, not only ensures excellent service for the daily customers but helps coordinate all the many banquets, functions and many promotional aspects of George’s to the tourist industry which she says has “completely exploded over the top this past year with its popularity.”

About Georges Greek Village Restaurant

Owner and namesake George Kountourogiannis worked for many years in the Kountourogiannis family restaurant business before opening doors to George’s Greek Village Restaurant in 2016. Located in St. Catharines, Ontario on the Welland Canal, Georges Greek Village is a family friendly restaurant that features authentic greek cuisine, regular weekly specials, take-out, banquet facilities and is able to accommodate all other special occasions. Ample parking make George’s a must visit for bus tours and tourist groups alike. During summer season, the patio can hold up to 40 people and features regular passing of the ships through the Welland Canal.

Georges Greek Village
535 Queenston Street,
St. Catharines, ON
905-684-5484
www.georgesgreekvillage.com
Let us know what you think!