Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexi Stavrou.
Alexi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a person that loves making people smile and feel good. It is my primary goal in life to bring people joy and my life and chosen careers have reflected that. There are few industries that allow us to bring pleasure to so many people in the same way as the food industry. I come from a long line of restaurateurs both in the US and Cyprus. I always knew I wanted my own spot to serve people. It was always a matter of time.
Ten years ago, I put together a plan to start a mobile Greek coffee stand in Los Angeles. But I was still an actor in Cyprus had a good career. Finally in Nov 2012, I packed up my life and moved to LA. I immediately started to build my business. Alone and without a penny to my name I borrowed some money from my mother to buy a small pushcart. Unfortunately, I could not get it approved and could not afford to buy a proper truck. Sidewalk vending was not allowed at that point and I need a food truck or trailer.
I decided to work and build my own coffee house on wheels over time. I spent all my extra money and borrowed whatever I could from my father in law and from my own parents in order to continue the build and launch the business by the spring of 2015. Unfortunately, during the final phase of the build, I ruptured a disc in my cervical spine. In agony, I finished the roof that broke me and the Little Greek was finished. But so was I. I was incapable of continuing the building process. But it still needed a kitchen on the inside, and I was physically finished. It took a lot of therapy, PTI, and finally stem cells before I could regain feeling throughout my body and actually work on anything. I was no longer my best me and a bit of a shell of the man I was just a few years earlier. I seemed like a man with no future and on a self-destructive path. A person at the bottom and behaving like a wounded and cornered animal. I always lived a very active lifestyle, and I love doing things and playing with my son Zenon. These basic joys became a task for me and life was losing its glimmer. I thought I’d end up an invalid by 40. I isolated myself. I decided to sell what I had built and to do the stem cells in a final attempt to avoid fusion surgery.
The Little Greek wouldn’t sell while I waited for the Stem cell therapy to work. No one needed or wanted it. I worked as an actor when I could, worked as a freelance writer, and sold off useless antiques I’d been acquiring for years and storing in my garage. Finally, a friend in NYC introduced me to a gig writing a screenplay for a feature film. It was out of left field but it worked out and I got the job. It was a solid gig. I also was beginning to feel way better. MRI’s showed that my disc had completely healed. I decided to take the money and finish the Little Greek.
I felt like myself again. I could do things physically, I could work out again and feel like a normal functional person and after a few more months, I was back to being me; a happy, goofball that likes making people smile. Everything was back on track and I was as determined as ever to finish my dream of building this coffee house. Nearing the end of the process, I Again ran out of money and this time I was really done, I was totally done and wanted to just throw it all away and again sell what was left. It was almost finished but I didn’t have the money to buy the fridge or get all the permits and the first shipment from Greece. I was determined that I had tried my best and needed to move on. I was done.
Then my mother intervened. Over the phone, with her words and her tone, she slapped me around like a good Greek mother does, and then she propped me up and said to finish it and that she would cover the remaining costs. I said no. No no no. Hell No! I’m done. Keep your money and go somewhere fun on holiday. Thank you but I’m done! But she just wouldn’t let me quit. So I didn’t. If she believed in me, then I believed in me. And so we moved forward together. She bought the fridge and the permits and the first order of produce from Greece. And we launched in summer of 2019! Now serving an authentic taste of Greece to LA County. All my products are organic and all imported from Greece directly. It’s still the beginning but so far so good. LA seems to love the Little Greek Coffee House.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
This has not been a bumpy road, it has been a road with holes, at best.
Please tell us about Little Greek Coffee House.
The Little Greek Coffee House is a hand build, owner-operated authentic Greek experience. I specialize in coffee house beverages from Greece and also delicious sweet and savory pastries. Everything is organic and/or imported directly from Greece through DNM Imports in San Jose.
I’m most proud of….not sure yet. Give me a few more months to earn that right. What sets me apart is the product and the service. I know all my customers and I make them the best coffee available in this city. Greeks really do have the best foods and ingredients and I only use real Greek coffees and teas. The Iced Frappe is a one of a kind drink and everyone that has one is hooked.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
SO many. Growing up in Cyprus was wonderful. I loved going on adventures into nature with my dad, all the fun beach days with my mama and sister and all the family gatherings we had every weekend. Family, food, fun and smiles.
- Iced frappe $5 Unique iced Greek coffee made to order and each cup custom.
- TUVUNU $3 – caffeine free iced greek mountain tea from Sideritis plants with honey and lemon(glass bottle)
- Loux Sparkling juices $3 – sparkling water with real juice and brown cane sugar. (glass bottle)
- Zagori Still $ Sparkling waters $3 & $2 Mineral water from Greece with TDS levels and high in minerals.(glass bottles)
- Phone: 3238156542
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @littlegreekcoffee
- Facebook: little greek coffee house
- Yelp: Little Greek Coffee House
Pics by Electra Stavrou, Gisele Lubsen, Antuone Torbert, and Alexi Stavrou