Alex and Claudia Perperidis were all set to celebrate their 20th year as owners of Paros Taverna on North Road in Coquitlam when the long awaited Evergreen Line got its final go-ahead and their property suddenly had to be vacated.
But no worries for the couple, who had to look only 1.4 kilometres away to find another place to set up shop again.
Anducci's was a wellknown Italian restaurant at 9604 Cameron St., in the Lougheed Plaza, and after the owners there decided to take a break, the Perperidis family had found their new home.
On Feb. 15, the restaurant went from Italian to Greek, but what hasn't changed is the great food, attention to detail and service that has made Paros a favourite in the Lougheed Town Centre area.
"I've always been in the restaurant business," said Alex on a recent weekday.
"In Greece, they say owning a restaurant is like having another wife. - I've been lucky that we're celebrating 20 years as owners of Paros this summer, and the restaurant has been open since 1986."
Alex actually has the restaurant to thank for his relationship with Claudia.
"I hired Clauds 12 years ago," said Alex. "We were both coming out of relationships, and we started hanging out together, and look where we are now."
The couple now oversees a family of four - the children range in age from seven to 19 - and like most family businesses, there's always work for the kids.
"I tell them they have to start here when they're 14," said Alex.
"Make that 13," said Claudia, as their 12-yearold son turns 13 in May and may soon be bussing tables and washing dishes.
In the kitchen, Alex and his staff are Greek experts, but after having taken over an old Italian restaurant, they decided to keep the pizza and pasta on the menu.
"Pizza is a big part of my background," said Alex. "Between 1983 and 1993, I sold pizza and that's how I made the money to buy Paros. - I love serving pizza."
And while the Italian dishes are good, the majority of Paros customers still come for traditional Greek favourites.
"Our three most popular dishes, by far are the cali (calamari), roast lamb and chicken souvlaki," said Alex. "By weight, the lamb chops are number 1, but by orders, it's the chicken."
Alex then brings out his big three, and the roast lamb shoulder is so tender that, as advertised, you don't need a knife because you can "cut it with a fork."
The lamb literally melts in my mouth, and the portions are so plentiful that I barely have enough room to finish off the huge rice, potato and Greek salad sides that come with the dish.
Photographer Larry Wright is working hard on the chicken souvlaki, and we mix in bites of the calamari as well, which is juicy and flavourful without being oily.
For dessert, we try the tiramisu - which can feed two or three quite easily. I can taste the mascarpone and it is sinfully delicious.
Claudia's also brought along some traditional Greek baklava, and the sweet pastry is full of the flavour of nuts and syrup that makes it such a signature dish.
Show up most days and either Alex or Claudia is there to welcome their old friends to their new digs.
"We do take some days off, and Sunday is family day," said Claudia. "I guess that's the beauty of owning your own business."
"I say that I take another day off each week with every decade I get older," said Alex. "But it's fun, and it's always going to be a big part of my life."
Paros Taverna, located at 9604 Cameron St., is open for lunch and dinner every day (dinner only on holidays).
To make a reservation, call 604-444-4788 or go to www.parostaverna.com.
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