Pentelikon Grocery Store cares for its neighbours while serving up a taste of Greece's past
When they opened their organic market in 1994, husband-and-wife team Andreas and Vasiliki set out to bring the most delicious traditional foods of their childhoods to their neighbours. Today, they count their customers as friends, stepping in to help during tough times and keeping the flavours as fresh as ever.
The idea of starting Pentelikon Grocery Store first came to husband-and-wife team Andreas and Vasiliki when they became parents. They wanted to adopt a healthier lifestyle, both for their child and for themselves, but discovered that they couldn't always find the farm-fresh, unprocessed, traditional Greek foods they remembered from their own childhoods.
Rather than compromise, they decided to open their own organic market in 1994, providing their North Athens neighbourhood with some of the country's best, most delicious foods—as well as expert advice on how to get the most out of them. In doing so, they grew into more than just a store. They became an essential part of the community.
The two look back on the early days fondly.
"We have been together for 34 years—since we were children," Andreas says with a laugh. "We did the best we could back then, but along the way, we evolved as people and, at the same time, as a business."
"Pentelikon Grocery has been dealing with food for 30 years now, and we've been in this neighbourhood for 26 years, so our customers grew up with us," he adds.
At the heart of the business is the desire to showcase the best food Greece has to offer, bursting with the flavours they enjoyed as kids.
"We kept the flavours and aromas unchanged from what we consumed as children, and this is what we want to offer to our customers," Vasiliki says. "That is, food that has taste and smell: real food."
This tidy, meticulously organised market is a gourmet paradise, packed with tempting treats sourced from Greek farmers. Colourful bins overflow with locally grown fruits and vegetables. The aroma of fresh bread fills the air. Shelves are stacked high with different varieties of olive oil. And a range of freshly prepared traditional foods—including a Greek salad that's both healthy and delicious—help busy families save time while eating well.
With so many amazing products on offer, both owners are happy to help customers put together the right ingredients for the perfect meal.
"It is a very nice feeling to be able to give the customer what they really need, and what you suggest," Andreas says. "It's like being an artist. If the audience does not like you, you have no reason to exist."
According to Vasiliki, Pentelikon Grocery Store stands out because it treats customers like family.
"What differentiates us and all small businesses are the personal relationships we build with our customers," she explains. "We put our truth into what we sell."
That truth includes stepping up in times of need, something they did repeatedly as the pandemic wreaked havoc on their community.
"We were called upon to have a social role too," Vasiliki says. "What do you do, leave someone without groceries?"
Fortunately, the future is looking bright, and both owners are proud that their business has remained a neighbourhood fixture despite a year of unprecedented challenges.
"Due to the situation during this period, our business was affected," Andreas says. "But I think we've navigated the ship pretty well for many years now and it's still on course, as it started."
Small neighbourhood businesses have been writing their own stories for years. These businesses play an important role in the local economy and add character to each neighbourhood with every priceless human relationship that's formed between them and their customers, every day. Read more about our other Greek small business partners Kakuru Jewelry and Paul's Barbershop.