March 7th, 2018 was a day in my life I thought may never happened. Last Wednesday we celebrated 20 years of Taziki’s and it’s been amazing to reflect on all the blessings that have occurred in two decades. It all starts with my beautiful wife, Amy, as we took our first trip to Greece and decided that we wanted to bring back the food, flavors, and culture that we experienced. After returning to our home in Birmingham, Alabama we started building our dream (literally). We took out a line of equity on our house and used that money to refurbish an old Sneaky Pete’s into our first restaurant in the Colonnade off Highway 280 in Birmingham.
My mom worked on the floors, my dad helped me rewire the place, and I can still hear my sweet little nieces running around the restaurant before we opened. I was just 33 years old and so excited to see my dream come to fruition. We opened in March of 1998, an after the first couple of months, I knew we were building something that could be pretty special. During our construction of our 2nd location we became pregnant with our first set of twins, and during the construction of our 3rd location we were surprised with another set of twins.
By greeting each customer that walked through our doors and spending a little extra time listening, we have not only created great memories but also great friends. We were fortunate in building our first store and making it successful, which turned into two and then three, and now I sit here today typing this knowing that number 83 is about to open next week. I can look back on 20 years and think of countless ways that God has blessed me, but one of the proudest moments was walking my 15 year into his first job at Taziki’s, showing him how to clock in and get started on his first day of employment.
Taziki’s hasn’t just been a job that has kept me busy. It is an accumulation of partners, employees, and friends that have grown my family to stretch across 16 states. One woman in particular, Cindy Vinson, introduced me to Brandy, who was the first of many people with special needs I employ. Brandy is one of the most hardworking and intentional employees I have, and I can count on her to do her job 100%. Without creating a relationship with Cindy and understanding the need to employ special needs, I would have never co-founded our HOPE program.
Last Wednesday it was incredible to serve 200+ people free signature pasta and take the time to hug my wife in the same spot I did 20 years ago. We are excited to see what the next 20 years brings!