Brothers Nicholas and George Pagonis have been working together since they were in elementary school. Their father, Tony, owned The Four Seasons, a classic Greek diner, in Alexandria, Virginia. As the older brother, Nicholas started in the kitchen when he was in second grade; George followed a year later. Both were self-proclaimed “toast boys,” manning the industrial grade toaster on the weekends to put out thousands of slices over the course of a shift. For their efforts, they would take home up to $60 each – big money for little kids. They spent it on sports equipment, Nintendo games, and Starter jackets. “We never had to shake our parents down or wait for our birthdays,” says George.
In middle school though, their paths diverged. George started working the line, while Nicholas began manning the host stand and the register. This split between the front of the house and the back of the house would define their career arcs, while setting them up for a perfect partnership years down the road as the team behind a burgeoning Greek empire in the Washington, D.C. area, which includes Kapnos in the District, Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, Maryland, Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, Virginia, and the newly opened Kapnos Taverna inside the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland.