George Poulos has been all over the world, but no matter where he lands, his heart will be with the hospitality industry. He has lived in Australia, Greece, Illinois and now Tarpon Springs. His first job was as a hardware store cashier; then he worked as a grocery store bagger. But ever since then his family has been in the restaurant business. Poulos moved to the Tampa Bay area about 10 years ago and has been a server for Hellas in Tarpon Springs.
What brought you to Hellas?
I first moved down here for my brother. He had to go back to school for real estate because the laws are different here from Chicago and he needed help. I came down with his wife, who introduced me to the Tarpon Springs area, and when I came to Hellas these folks opened their hearts up to me like family. I decided to give working here a try and helped out with management. After I started having my own family and couldn't be at work as much I went back into the serving position.
In addition to serving what are your duties?
Helping out the other servers and helping out the managers. Making sure everybody is okay and tending to everyone's wants and needs. I help make sure that whether a guest comes back next week or in 20 years that the food and hospitality is always going to be the same. I have had customers come in that have never had Greek food before and I try to explain the menu. Some even tell me that if it wasn't for me as a server they wouldn't know what to order. I present them with things they might never have tried and match their tastes. They usually come back wanting it exactly the same way.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I enjoy meeting new people and seeing new faces each and every day. You never know who you might meet. I serve people from all over the world. The atmosphere and the surrounding area are also very nice. Being involved with the Greek community feels a lot like being at home for me. We also have a lot of regulars so you get to know the people.
What is your least favorite thing about being a waiter?
The slow season. The economy has affected my job. I work here five days a week and every day is a surprise.
How do you get through the day?
I work double shifts a lot, but I get through it. I meet new people every day and I'm used to it and balance work and family life pretty well. I have older kids at home that help out and that makes things easier.
Do you like Greek food?
Oh yes! I love Greek food, but I explore every region's food. I love to entertain. I even have some of my regulars over for barbecues and I cook up everything from American to Greek food.
If you weren't a waiter, what would you do?
I am a good bartender, or I could even do management. Either way I would want to do something in the hospitality industry.
How much does a waiter make?
It varies. It could be anywhere from $20 to $100 a day. It could be more or it could be less. Maybe you're only working one shift and it's a slow day and you walk out with just $20 in your pocket. You never know. The busiest season is during the winter because all the people from up north come down here and we stay busy for a good three to four months.
What does it take to be a good waiter?
Be able to relate to the guests. You have to be friendly. Be prepared for a quick pace and to help each other out. All of us servers here help each other out. Everybody looks out for one another.