It’s all in the name: Two Veano’s restaurants serve old favorites – separately
From left, Andreas Georgopoulos adds some spices as Thanasi adds some final food to a plate at the recently opened Veano's Italian Kitchen II on Manchester Street in Concord. Owned by their father George, it is operated with his three sons, Andreas, Thanasi, Spiro, and his wife Jill.
JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff
George Georgopoulos talks with patrons during the lunch hour at the recently opened Veano's Italian Kitchen II on Manchester Street in Concord. He operates the restaurant with his three sons, Andreas, Thanasi, Spiro, and his wife Jill.
JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff
An antipasto plate at the recently opened Veano's Italian Kitchen on Manchester Street in Concord.
JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff
Veano's owner, Billy Georgopoulos, walks throughout his restaraunt talking to familiar faces and new ones about the new location in Pembroke on Tuesday, December 22, 2009.
Two Veano’s restaurants, just two miles apart, are now serving the same Italian dinners, onion rings and roast beef sandwiches that once drew crowds to Loudon Road.
While their owners come from the same family and serve the same recipes, one thing is clear: These two Veano’s restaurants are not affiliated.
After 34 years on Loudon Road, the four Georgopoulos brothers closed Veano’s Italian Kitchen in 2007 to make way for Walgreens drugstore. In 2009, Billy Georgopoulos opened Veano’s on Sheep Davis Road in Pembroke.
Two weeks ago, his nephew George opened his own Veano’s on Manchester Street in Concord.
Billy, George and their family members don’t like to talk about the split that led to the two restaurants, but they do both retain legal rights to the Veano’s name. When the Georgopoulos family closed their restaurant on the Heights, they drew up a legal agreement to split their name into three parts.
Billy and his brother Spiro received the name Veano’s Italian Kitchen I. The rights to Veano’s Italian Kitchen II went to George’s father, Andreas, who is retired and living in Greece. George opened Veano’s Italian
Kitchen II this month, with his father’s permission. The fourth brother, Nick, kept the name Veano’s Italian Kitchen. Nick opened a restaurant in Hooksett in 2010; it closed last year.
George, 46, was born in Greece and came to New Hampshire in 1981, seven years after his father and uncles bought Veano’s. He didn’t speak English and was supposed to return to Greece at the end of the summer. But he decided to stay in Concord as a dishwasher at Veano’s, where he eventually became a cook. By the time Veano’s closed 26 years later, George had never held another job.
He worked at different restaurants and held a few construction jobs to support his wife and three sons until September, when he found a vacant restaurant on Manchester Street with an affordable rent. George missed making his favorite family recipes, so he called his father in Greece and asked about starting his own Veano’s Italian Kitchen.
“And he says, ‘You know, you got to do what you got to do, you’ve got to make a living. I gave you the name to use it so you could make a living, you know,’ ” George said. “So that’s all. Nothing personal, nothing personal against anybody. I work hard for what I’m trying to do and for my family and that’s all.”
His new location at 30 Manchester St. was most recently home to Kaylen’s Pizzeria and previously the Egg Shell Restaurant. George worked for more than three months on renovations, with the help of friends and the construction experience he’s gained since 2007.
Business was slow at first because he didn’t advertise his opening, but George said word began to spread and there was a lunchtime rush by Monday.
“To be honest with you, 80 percent of the people that I see, it’s old customers that I knew from the Loudon Road location,” he said.
When longtime customers walk in, he remembers exactly what they want to order.
“So when I see them walking in I start making their food,” he said. “By the time they sit down and got their drinks the food was right there.”
The menu is identical to the original Veano’s Italian Kitchen, with a few new items. He keeps a faded and stained pad of paper with handwritten recipes – a relic from Loudon Road – in his top desk drawer, but he rarely needs it.
“It’s all in my head,” he said.
George hired two waitresses who worked at the Loudon Road Veano’s. His wife, Jill, and their sons – Andreas, Nasi and Spiro – work alongside him in the kitchen. But George rushes around the kitchen himself, making the recipes he knows so well.
“I’m a very fussy guy,” he said. “Every plate that goes up, I have to see it.”
George remains close with his own immediate family. He speaks almost every day with his parents in Greece, who hope to visit Concord and see the new restaurant soon. And he’s busy teaching his sons to cook.
“Ever since I was watching my dad work, I always just wanted to do what my dad does, the same way,” said his 19-year-old son Nasi, who remembers helping as a young kid on Loudon Road.
Two miles down the road, George’s uncle Billy has been working with his daughters, serving the same menu, for the past three years.
“It’s the same food and the same exact thing that was going on over there (on Loudon Road),” he told the Monitor shortly after opening in 2009.
Billy invited a Monitor reporter to visit his restaurant for an interview yesterday afternoon, but later changed his mind and declined to comment.
George said he and his uncle Billy aren’t on speaking terms. He visited Billy’s Pembroke restaurant once – for coffee – but never ate or worked there.
“I don’t know, the years change, the people change,” George said.
He doesn’t like to talk about the split in the family business, and repeats that he needs to support his own wife and children.
Billy’s brother Nick, who opened the Veano’s Italian Kitchen in Hooksett, closed his restaurant in August. Reached yesterday, Nick said he’s now retired from the restaurant business. Spiro, the fourth brother, is living in Greece.
Spiro was “the brain behind the whole thing” when the original Veano’s opened, George said.
In 2007, Spiro signed letters dividing the trade name rights, according to documents filed with the state.
Those name differences are now buried in each restaurant’s sign. In Pembroke, a faint outline of the numeral “I” appears after the name. In Concord, “II” marks a wine bottle on the restaurant’s logo.
The Georgopoulos brothers still own the 142 Loudon Road property and rent it Walgreens, under the company Newhamco Inc.
No restaurant will replace the Veano’s Italian Kitchen from that site, with its round windows, open kitchen and lines of hungry customers, George said.
“No, you can never,” he said. “You can never bring back that place, the old Veano’s.”