Feb 3, 2023 - Food and Drink

Durham restaurateur isn't slowing down

Giorgios Bakatsias stands wearing an orange shirt and a straw hat with a blue, white and red ribbon tied around it.

Giorgios Bakatsias is on a restaurant opening spree at the moment. Photo courtesy of Forrest Mason/Giorgios Group

Giorgios Bakatsias has reached the age when most people would retire.

  • But instead, the Durham-based restaurateur is in the middle of an aggressive expansion spree across the Triangle.

Why it matters: Bakatsias is perhaps the most prolific restaurant operator in the Triangle, with more than four decades worth of experience running eateries here.

  • By the end of the year, he will have 15 restaurants open.

What they're saying: "I mean let's face it, we're a small speck in this universe and this beautiful precious life," Bakatsias tells Axios over the phone, calling the pandemic a "painful exercise."

  • "But I have a plan of action and I love creating and working more than ever."

Driving the news: In the past 12 months, Bakatsias has opened Krill in Durham, Las Ramblas and Giorgio Pizza Bar in Raleigh and Kipos in Wilmington.

  • In the coming months, he will add Niko, a revival of one of his former Mediterranean eateries, in Durham and the French cuisine-inspired East End Bistrot in Raleigh.

Flashback: From the moment he moved to Burlington from the small Greek village of Karitsa at age 12, his life has been dominated by food and kitchens, first in his father's restaurant in Burlington and then his own.

  • He opened his first restaurant in Durham in 1978.

The big picture: While these are indeed challenging times for the industry, he believes there's still a demand for more restaurant experiences.

  • "There's an opportunity to plant new seeds and create new chapters for success, because I think people want expansion," he said. "They want to be around people. They want to have tasty food, and they want to have various cultural and local experiences."
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