On Sunday, Father’s Day, the traditional family brunch of George Papagiannis and a discussion by face time with his father Achille, on vacation in Greece. One event added a particular color to the festivities this time, namely the full business transfer of Restaurants Lafleur. George Papagiannis is officially president of the brand born in 1951 in a potato car, after it acquired its current form in 1961, rue Lafleur, in LaSalle.
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There’s a lot going on at the Papagiannis. “Also recently, my father sold Le Petit Québec restaurants to my father’s brother and we bought 100% of Lafleur restaurants,” says George Papagiannis in an interview. Today we have 100% of the Lafleur and La Belle Provincia restaurants. »
“I am extremely proud of what my father has built over the decades,” he continues. He worked very hard to get to this level. »
This Greek immigrant, who arrived in Quebec in 1971 at the age of 16, quickly found himself in restaurants. “Without speaking the language, recalls Achille Papagiannis. I learned French and English at work. »
Five years later, he owned a restaurant, La Belle Province, in Saint-Hubert. With his older brother, he later owned the Le Petit Québec brand, which was acquired by Lafleur Restaurants in 2011. At his father’s request, from the age of 10, George Papagiannis was at the counter on weekends to help the family. and, consciously or not, to make their stops. He subsequently studied administration and economics, always keeping in mind never to deviate from the family business. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” he says. As if he was born for this. »
Today he represents the second generation of Papagiannis at the helm of Lafleur Restaurants. His father will stay by his side. “His advice from him is really important and I continue to learn from him every day,” says George Papagiannis.
I am also learning a lot from him. George has new ideas to grow the business. He makes me see certain things differently, for the better.
By 2027, George Papagiannis would like to increase the number of restaurants from 16 (15 owned and 1 franchised) to 32. “We’ve already started modernizing our restaurants, he says. We have a branch that we are going to destroy and rebuild in Lachine. She needs some love! »
Management is looking to the North Shore and South Shore for continued growth. “We want to grow everywhere in Quebec, obviously in the most populated areas,” explains George Papagiannis. We did a study to find out which locations would be strategic and effective. But nothing is confirmed for now. »
For the rest, the new president values the family spirit of Restaurantes Lafleur, both for his clan and for his 200 employees. “There is a shortage of labor, products and supply problems,” George Papagiannis lists. We try to do the best we can. We pay good salaries with group insurance. We are not really into robotization, but we are not closed to the idea. We are known for cutting potatoes by hand, in front of the customer, and I want that to continue. The most important thing is to strengthen our team. »
At least when the aid runs out, everyone collaborates. “We work hard together, sums up George Papagiannis. I like that our Lafleur restaurants are like a family. There is a lot of history behind. It’s a real Quebec brand, established in 1951, even before McDonald’s. We want to keep the family look of the restaurants. We go back to work in the kitchen. Even my accounting manager has already come to help us. »
George Papagiannis, who has three children (8, 10 and 14), is already preparing a successor at Restaurantes Lafleur? “If they like it, I would like to pass the business on to them, but it will have to come out of them,” the president replies. You have to love what you do to do it well. »
In the meantime, guess who will be the brand’s new catering employee, at dad’s request? “We are short of manpower, we need all the possible hands,” recalls George Papagiannis. She gladly accepted. »
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