Meet Antonios Karagiannakis of
Kalamaki Greek La
Today we’d like to introduce you to Antonios Karagiannakis.
Antonios, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born In Heraklion, Capital of Crete that is the biggest island of Greece.
I was making frozen yogurt in Greece till a friend that we used to worked together tried my product. He liked it so I was Invited By a Beverly Hills-based company to create a new product with Fresh and Frozen yogurt and set up the first store for this company. Then three more stores as they expand. It was something new to me since I have never been in US before so all was different (measures,habits, etc.) But I did make it and create a successful product that attracts Hollywood celebrities and famous persons till now.
Thats where my story begins. I wanted to start my own business back in Greece before I moved, but once the economic crisis hit Greece, I saw that there were too many obstacles to be overcome. Making the journey from Crete, Greece to USA was not a decision that took lightly. However, when opportunity knocked, I knew that I had a chance to prove to myself all that I was capable of accomplishing. I moved to the United States on March 1, 2013, and has focused on building my future ever since.
“I saw the potential in Crete [but] there wasn’t any future, business-wise, so I took the opportunity to go to the U.S. I proved what I can do. “It wasn’t easy but, if you want something and you have patience and don’t give up, you can stay in the U.S. and have success. You just need time.”
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
At the beginning like all persons that moved to a new country was a totally different world to my eyes. I had to change a lot of things from way that I think till all small things like how to work in different measures (like kg to lb for example.) Language was another issue since my level was only to communicate and not the level of being working as professional and sending e-mails to big companies. This job “has a lot of work, few hours’ sleep, and stress, but as a proud Cretan-Greek we have in our blood [the will] to not give up and try harder to make it happen.”
Kalamaki Greek La – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My business-oriented mind lay dormant in Crete. My dreams led me to where I am now, a food truck that specializes in “fine Greek food, Vromiko-style, Greek yogurt smoothies and Blended coffees with Greek yogurt on top which is inspired by the island of Crete. Most customers will come for Gyros and live the experience and the smell of the summer vacation that had in Greece. I feel proud when they start telling me where they have traveled in Greece and saying Greek words that they learn while they were there.
What makes us different except the gyros,smoothies, and coffees is the good vibe that you feel as soon as you approach us on the order window.
Greek hospitality and make you feel like being on vacation in Greece is our motto, just like back home.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success in my eyes except of being expand and make the business bigger and better is also the satisfaction to seeing customers enjoying the product s, make jokes with you feel comfortable, happy, know you with your name, asking for you if you are not there or even when they are taking a picture of the food or other product…that’s a satisfaction and part of success, in my opinion.
My goal is to establish the business, have a couple of stay-able locations and stay-able events and eventually in future a set up of a restaurant same style and concept.
Interview by VoyageLA