Greeks and food go together. That’s why fellow blogger and long-time Greek cook has become the icon of Greek cooking on the web. Maggie Makris runs the site Momzcuisine and tries to make life more palatable by running a test kitchen for the updated, easy-to-make recipes of Greek staples with some twists and then blogging about it. A native New Yorker with a degree in Criminal Law, Maggie has searched for her soul’s calling in many nooks and crannies, but has finally returned home to ancestral Corfu where she whets our appetites while we wet our bodies in our mind’s eye in the crystal blue waters of the island. As the oldest of three kids, she started messing around in the kitchen at age 13. But the recipe for success and how to get through life she received from her Baba, a Greek immigrant who like many other small business owners of his day, gravitated to opening a small diner, or luncheonette, in the Far Rockaways in the mid 1950s.
Here’s her story in her own words:
A & S 21- 15 Far Rockaway Mott Ave., is the last stop on the A train. It is also a landmark of triumphs, success, failures, hard work, determination and a prerequisite for business and life. A & S was a business that was started by two Greek man my Uncle Angelo and my Dad Spyro, hence A&S. They were two men who had nothing more than the determination and will to make something of themselves. Yet it is here where I received a foundation for all future conductivity whether it be business or personal relations.
I was bestowed skills, experience and professionalism that would guide me through my entire life. My dad was my mentor, way before this word became trendy and before everyone became an expert in something. I was acquiring knowledge and experience that would not be found in any college or business seminar class. You see, my dad was a man who never stepped foot in a classroom or had ever attended any business seminars and yet he was successful and he made sure I learned early in life. He guided me through each step of the way and taught me the 3 pillars of a successful business and relations.
1) Building Relations – This was a number one factor for my dad, without this you weren’t going to be successful. If you lacked in relations might as well stay home, as he would say. What he would drill in my head on a daily basis. Real simple words, not gourmet phrases: “ You must be nice to your customers, they leave us money and if it weren’t for them we would be home.” That’s it, just be nice! In today’s world it’s called customer service, and we had modeled this and passed it on. His training has been embedded in my mind and I have never encountered a problem in building a relation at any level.
2) Customer Service (repeated customers, clients etc.) – Expanding on the word nice, once again simple stuff that later made huge sense. “Maggie”, he would say, (holding back my tears): our repeat customers come here because we offer service. If they want some extra orange juice, give it to them. They come here every day, so place extra napkins and always smile. Our customers don’t need to hear our problems, they tell us theirs. This is the simple stuff that grew his business and his family. He was not classroom educated but very well acquainted with the hardships of life that made him knowledgeable way beyond his years. No matter where I worked, I also kept this in mind and I always went the extra mile for a customer, a client, a shopper, etc.
3) Honesty and Quality – My dad was a firm believer of being honest and always providing the best quality. As cliché as it might sound it’s the truth! My dad always served fresh quality food. His motto was,”If my family goes somewhere to eat, I would want them to eat the best.” What attracted even more customers is when they saw his children eating the same food he was serving. I would hear many times, “I want what you just gave your kids.” That put a great smile on his face. He was very sensitive when it came to kids. There were times when he gave little freebies to kids, such as chocolate, gum, one free hot dog. Simple things that made his customers keep coming back for more.These are the things that we the younger generation use today, and we like to garnish them and call these little actions, promotions, marketing, incentives, bonuses etc.
With these three pillars my dad built his little empire and accomplished the American dream.
Before buying this luncheonette, he went through many obstacles and tried many jobs. I ensued a blogging journey just two months before my dad passed away from cancer. I believe it was a whisper to my heart that said, “Go on I gave you something now keep it going.” I would like to thank my dad for providing me with this important foundation and I know he is watching and protecting me from up above. As I interweave the three pillars into my blogging, I hope to encourage my readers and build long lasting relations with them. The recipes and stories that I write about have been tried and tested and I hope you benefit from them.
Blogging has been a creative journey to keep my dad’s memory alive. Combining the food and entrepreneurial skills I acquired from my dad, Momzcuisine was born.
My blog is located at: http://www.momzcuisine.blogspot.com