Q&A: The authentic taste of Greece down under

This week we chat to Nick Mitrossilis who was just 24 when he opened his first business, The Yiros Shop, five years ago in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. With little business experience but a desire to bring authentic, fresh Greek food to Brisbane, Nick is proud of the fact that he’s managed to expand the business into having multiple outlets despite not fully understanding what he was getting himself into when he first started.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you deciding to start The Yiros Shop despite your lack of business experience at that time?

NM: My love for Greek food, and yiros in particular. There were very limited options in Brisbane at the time so I thought if I was wanting to find quick and fresh Greek food, other Brisbane locals would be feeling the same.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise off the ground?

NM: In the beginning one of the biggest challenges was educating people about the difference between a yiros and kebab. Why is a yiros more expensive than a kebab? The main answer is the meat – we use high-quality Aussie marinated lamb and chicken. It’s also the fluffy pita bread and then the house-made tzatziki, fresh salad and the hot chips inside. Once people had their first yiros they understood what we were talking about!

ISB: How did you go about choosing locales and sourcing premises for the outlets?

NM: We try to choose locations with high exposure, easy parking options and a lunch-and-dinner trade. We are very specific about where we open up stores because the location is a massive factor in the success of a restaurant.

ISB: In what ways has technology helped you get the venture up and running and contribute to its expansion?

NM: Technology is changing very frequently and you always have to be ahead of the game, so learning about the new and exciting tools out there is crucial but not always easy. On a day-to-day basis we are able to see live sales, wage costs, inventory and cost of goods. Being able to see all these main KPI’s live helps track and maintain your stores’ success day by day. We have our own ordering app and web-ordering system that customers can use to order ahead and skip the line. In the pipeline are instore, self-ordering kiosks with AI technology to help serve customers faster, which we’re really excited about as it’ll improve workflows for staff and mean shorter wait-times for consumers.

ISB: What is your vision for the venture in the next couple of years?

NM: My vision for the next couple of years is expansion. We have been fine tuning The Yiros Shop for the last two and a half years, since the last store opened. Now with the two new stores in Albion and Stafford opening and possible franchise sites opening later in the year. We have already secured three sites for 2021 and hoping to have our first drive-through model by the end of the year.

ISB: Finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on your journey you’d share with others looking to start their own hospitality business?

NM: The number one lesson is that the numbers don’t lie. Make sure you thoroughly check your menu profitability and wage costs. Do everything the best way you can and don’t cut corners. Customers have lots of other choices, you need to give them a reason to keep choosing your product or service.