George Fakos is a man who likes a challenge. A hospitable man by nature, George had never dipped his toes into the world of hospitality until he bought Greek restaurant Trapezi, in Melbourne’s Fairfield four years ago – a far cry from his former working life. Swapping a career in fashion and a background in the corporate world, he gave it all up to give people a home away from home. In his last job, George travelled around Australia. So much so he was leading a life of solitude and missing out on his small children growing up. With that in mind, as well the opportunity of seeing family members involved in the hospitality game, George took the plunge. “Now I travel through my customers, whatever journey they go, through food, through hospitality, I travel on that journey too,” he says philosophically. When George first took ownership of Trapezi, he tried to use his knowledge of the corporate world, his organisational skills and transfer them to the day-to-day running of the business. But something didn’t click. His staff, who he considers his family, lived and breathed hospitality so he changed his way of thinking. “That corporate rule book had to go out of the window because you are family now, and you don’t want to upset your family,” George says of his staff. “So you go back to your mother’s place, get the baoulo, and get the kindergarten rule book to connect again with the weird wonderful and colourful individuals who operate with emotions. “I had to break it down to the most common denominator where I could touch it, smell it, feel it and really make sense of this business and this industry and what it is. The only way I could do it was say people are coming to my home away from home to eat and be together with their friends and loved ones.” That is now the ethos that businessman George uses; giving people the love and the warmth they would feel when walking into his own home. Regardless of whether it’s a table for one, a table of 25, whether you’re a millionaire or only have $20 to spend: George treats all his customers with the same amount of respect and love. “It’s very rewarding when you tick all the boxes,” confesses George. “When you’ve treated your customers with respect, you’ve honoured their presence, you’ve done the right things with the quality of what your dishing out; and quantity, because we’re Greek not French. We can leave the tiny serves to the French.” George has a humorous side, and that buzzes throughout the restaurant. There is something about Trapezi that feels as though it’s a place to have fun – no matter what age. “One of my best moments I’ve had in this restaurant was last year. We had a party of oldies one Friday night – aged between 60 and over – there must have been about 8 to 9 couples. After they ate, they got up and starting dancing, I have never seen anyone dance a better zeibekiko then these guys. One of the men had their shirts open while they were dancing and I remember baying to him cover up because you could catch a cold and get sick and need to go to the doctors and he told me to shut up and said ‘tonight we are young tomorrow we wont’ be’. We got out the bottle of scotch for them on the dance floor too. Then about 1.30 am the police came in to check the liquor licence. The oldies grabbed hold of them and forced them to dance. It was a real humbling experience. It was just before 2.00 am when the police officers tried to leave, but the oldies grabbed them again and forced them to dance again. It was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had here.” It’s that joy that George receives from the people that keeps the fire in his belly burning to stay in the restaurant business – and Greek food. “We have the most powerful and beautiful cuisines in the world, so why not give it to the people?” he asks. George only eats Greek food, sometimes he will venture out and eat a pizza, but when it comes to food, he doesn’t feel the need to venture out. He admits it might seem narrow-minded to some people but he truly believes that everything is there for you in Greek food. And he picks gouvetsi – made with the meat – as the best Greek dish. The poor man’s mountain dish, George says you can’t get any better than that. “I grew up with Greek food, I know what it tastes like and you can’t get any better than that,” he says patriotically. And being such a perfectionist, he samples all the dishes, bar the ones with egg in them as he has an allergy. “Everyone tells me we have one of the best galaktobouriko’s but I can’t taste it so I have to trust them,” he says with a giggle.Trapezi, 145B Station Street, Fairfield, VIC (03) 9489 0080. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram
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