Greek Restaurant Owners Really Want Your Business

Written by Erik Lindquist

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I went to Greece for spring break! It still feels surreal to me that it happened. It was all amazing: the scenery, the history, the architecture, the people, the ouzo, etc. I’d be lying if I said the trip was meticulously planned. We had a loose plan of where, in terms of cities, we wanted to visit, but that was it. It kind of just fell into place.

 

Seeing the Acropolis was amazing. I had a gyro or two. I took a ferry to a beautiful island called Hydra. I went on a number of hikes and saw several breathtaking monasteries. I found myself in a number of hilariously odd living arrangements (I couldn’t have done it without you, Airbnb!) and became a self-proclaimed Greek public transportation savant. While I could easily write pages about the trip (let me know if you want to chat about it), I decided I wanted to tell an anecdote about an incident involving dedicated restaurant owners in Athens.

 

The Exposition

 

It was immediately clear that tourism was the core of the Athenian economy. Restaurants, vendors, and street performers tirelessly compete for the tourists’ business. My two friends and I were walking down a walkway at about 7:30pm. We had just finished the gyros that we had purchased from a street vendor, so we were full.

 

Since we went to Greece during the off season of tourism, it’s safe to say that our business was significantly sought. I felt like a king. Everyone would do their best to woo and court me for my euros. There were three restaurants in a row along the street. Each one had a greeter in front of the establishment. I’m going to lay out their pitches.

 

The Conflict

 

1. The traditionalist

 

As we strolled by the first one, George’s, the greeter walked up to us and sparked up a conversation. He had soft features, a welcoming personality, and was knocking on the door of 350 pounds. He introduced himself as George and gave us his business card. He proceeded to thank us for coming to the country because “tourists like you have supported my family for generations!” I genuinely wished I hadn’t already eaten because he certainly won my business.

 

He proceeded to malign the neighboring restaurants. He told us that the next one would tell us about having deals on drinks and food, like a free appetizer or something, but wouldn’t follow through with their pitch. He said the third restaurant-owner on the block would lie about being from the United States to get our business. “Stay away from snakes like him,” George said.

 

We thanked him, apologized for not being hungry, and moved on. I only remember George because I felt so attached to him after the interaction. He successfully made his impression!

 

2. The dealer

 

While we were talking to George, I noticed that the other restaurant greeters on the block were watching. The next restaurant greeter approached us as soon as George finished his spiel. He opened the pitch with a different tactic: “you guys like shots?” He told us that we’d each get two free shots with our meal. He proceeded to tell us to ignore everything that George told us. He also criticized George’s for being too expensive and the next restaurant for having bad food.

 

3.  The conversationalist

 

This last guy was at least 10 years younger than the past two restaurant-owners. He was skinny, had an american accent, and was dressed like one of the Backstreet Boys. He asked us where we were from, chatted about the Minnesota Timberwolves, and said that he had family in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

 

He didn’t offer any deals and didn’t criticise the other restaurants. His tactic was relatability.

 

Conclusion

 

In the end, I regrettably didn’t eat at any of the restaurants. George’s tactic won my heart, the second guy’s tactic aimed at my wallet and the innate need for thrill, and the last guy aimed for connections. Why don’t we see this sort of tireless promotion for U.S. restaurants.