PALM HARBOR, Fla. (FOX 13) – This Greek restaurant chain launched in Palm Harbor as “Little Greek,” but it quickly repopulated across state lines.
For Nick Vojnovic, he had to make a decision. He is a former CEO of Beef O’ Brady’s and could have retired, but his wife had another idea.
“I tell my wife we did well with Beef O’ Brady’s. If we scale back our lifestyle, we can retire,” he told FOX 13. “She said, ‘You need help with your resume.’”
Vojnovic became president of Little Greek Fresh Grill. He teamed up with the founder, Sigrid Bratic. The Palm Harbor location was the first, but then by 2011, there were four locations. Now, there are 31 restaurants across Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.
Vojnovic knew he wanted to get back into the franchise hunt. It was with this restaurant that he found what he was looking for.
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“That’s my strength. Take a small franchise and grow it,” he explained. “One of my buddies told me, ‘It’s going take 100 deals before you find the right one.’ He was right. I ended up looking at 80 restaurant concepts before I found Little Greek.”
Vojnovic said the market was already saturated with burritos, burgers and pizza. Plus, he liked Greek food.
“The food was so good. It’s fresh. It’s healthy. It’s flavorful,” he said, but the challenge was – with all successful franchises – is to keep what works.
“We make everything from scratch,” Vojnovic said. “Food is good. Great service. Also, great value.”
Little Greek is what they call in the restaurant industry “fast casual.” It’s a hot concept – not a sit-down restaurant in the typical sense, but a lot like it.
“Here, they get a fine dining, quality meal,” Vojnovic explained. “We’re cutting the lamb. We’re cutting salmon. We’re cutting fresh chicken. So, you are getting a $15 to $20 meal for 7, 8, 9 dollars. Very good portion sizes.”
From four restaurants — when Vojnovic came in — to dozens in five states, Little Greek has been successful but it’s not always easy to do this. He said one of the biggest lessons he has learned in his career is not to expand too quickly.
He also said he sees some bumps in the road ahead: rising real estate prices, that makes it harder to build new restaurants, and the rise of delivery services like Uber Eats. It’s convient for diners, but cuts into profits for restaurants.
“The key to success with Little Greek? Wonderful food. Great atmosphere. Great people. Good pricing. That’s what people are looking for,” he said. “Something different too.”
LINK: For more information and locations, visit the Little Greek website.