Among the many Greek delicacies that exist, the most prestigious of them all is a product commonly known as “GYROS”. Gyros have been a part of the traditional Greek cuisine for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Although its true origin is unknown, its initial impact and influence on the American Food Industry can be attributed to the pioneering efforts of one individual affectionately known as “Papa George”. George Apostolou is the father of the Gyros dish that is loved and enjoyed by many in restaurants across North America. He was the first person to successfully manufacture, promote and market Gyros. Today, thousands of restaurant owners across the country make a living by serving Gyros.
George first introduced Gyros to the American public in 1965 at The Parkview Restaurant, a small establishment that he owned with his cousins in Chicago, Illinois. Customers enjoyed the new Gyros product, although some were intimidated by its awkward appearance. The Gyros craze was just beginning and Papa George was about to make a big impact on the food industry. Restaurant owners saw this potential and inquired as to how they could offer Gyros because customers were looking for an alternative to Hamburgers. George saw this as a great business opportunity and began manufacturing Gyros in mass quantities out of his kitchen, selling it to other restaurant owners who wanted to serve and promote this new item. Eventually, demand for Gyros became so great that George sold his restaurant and, in 1975, opened a U.S.D.A. Gyros Manufacturing Plant. The business was called Central Gyros Wholesale.
The task of establishing a Gyros Manufacturing Plant was not easy. Aware of the difficulties, George turned to his brothers Jimmy and Louie for assistance. Together they grew Central Gyros into a Gyros Empire, marketing their product, first in Chicago and then later, across the country. Today, a Gyros sandwich is as common in Chicago as is a Hamburger or a Hot Dog. In 1986, Central Gyros Wholesale was sold to a competitor in Chicago. Using the recipes that George had developed, the Central brand is still the leading brand sold by that company in the Chicago market today.
Following the sale of Central Gyros Wholesale, George started a Food Distribution company by the name of Devanco Foods. Shortly after its inception, the company began to manufacture a sliced beef product known as Italian Beef. In 1995, Devanco began manufacturing Gyros and today, seven different Gyros recipes are made, each unique in taste, texture and flavor. The seven brands are: Papa George, Original, Corinthian, Mykonos, Old Chicago, All Beef and Halal.
In December of 2003, Devanco Foods was acquired by a group of Chicago area Foodservice Industry professionals with a combined 100+ years of experience, all which have been dedicated to the marketing of Gyros, Italian Beef and Italian Sausage. As a final tribute to George’s contributions to the Gyros Industry, the new owners have developed the high-quality brand of Gyros, called “Papa George”. The response was remarkable, as no other manufacturer offers a Gyros product of such high quality. Under its new ownership, Devanco will continue to produce and market high-quality products to the Foodservice and Retail Industry, carrying on the tradition of Papa George.