We all travel and most often find that a gem, a bar, eatery or retail shop. Perhaps a periptero (kiosk) in Greece.

Sometimes we go back, or we may like their social media, even recommend our friends to visit. Then we let the memory fade.

I have located Greek businesses on my global travels, especially places to eat. In early 2023 in Recife, Brazil, I located a Greek gyros place in a cluster of local eateries by the beach. Stunning setting.

I was with Greek-speaker, Brazilian writer Ana Marcia,. With one night remaining, we gave up the opportunity to see the five centuries old Olinda to go for gyros in the opposite direction on the coast.

When our ride dropped us off in Recife, to our disappointment the gyros place was closed. The lovely people from the Oxe Menina caravan explained that it had shut several months earlier. We ate northern Brazilian version of souvlaki. Delicia.

Ana Marcia joined Bill Cotsis at O Grego in Rio, Brazil. Photo: Bill Cotsis

I wondered. What if we and others “adopt” and champion small Greek businesses worldwide? Maybe our support can value add to local Greek businesses in these foreign countries.

In Bethlehem, I found a Greek hotel. The Greek flag fluttered above, and there was a Greek-speaking manager, Al Zorbas, a Greek Palestinian. He was as proud of his Hellenism. Why would we not want to adopt and support this business?

In Rio, I have eaten in all the Greek eateries. All two of them. O Grego – The Greek, opened just after Christmas. I saw a Greek flag and Olympiacos banner flying at Ipanema beach in 2020. I wondered about the flag flying at kiosk No. 100. The staff didn’t understand my questions. We met the owner by chance at a new Greek restaurant just off Avenue Atlantic, Copacabana. his name is Sotiris Gkousgkounis. Follow the footpath from the beach, you will also see a meander on the ground. I had no idea that it would lead to O Grego.

Across Copacabana, people talked about the new Greek restaurant. Well designed and elegant. I felt like I was in Greece. Ana Marcia whose children are Greek Brazilian joined me for dinner. Delicia.

Gkousgkounis has lived in Rio since 2010 and fell in love with this city. His business partner, Kyriakos Savva, from Cyprus married a Brazilian woman. He arrived at the starts of the century. They took a chance, opened a Greek restaurant, and brought in a chef from Greece to make it as authentic as possible.

Greekbeach kiosk on Ipanena beach, Brazil, Photo: Bill Cotsis

The key is authenticity, just like in São Paulo where Theodoros Alexandropoulos makes his own pita bread and tzatziki. Theodoros was born in São Paulo and loves Greece. So much that he goes on television to show-off his Greek cooking.

He opened a quaint shop in a quiet neighbourhood a year ago and uses his mother’s recipes. This is the type of business that needs our support as he supports local Hellenism.

If you are in these places get to know the owners. One Greek waiter at Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles offered to take me on a tour of Greek LA. You get to see a philoxenia when you make the effort to know the people.

On Lesvos, I go to Tropicana every year in Molivos on the Platano. Giannis Pitsoulis is the best chef on the planet after my mother Maria Cotsis, who is also from Lesvos.

Giannis has become a brother, and we go out when it’s possible, or to the beach. That’s the result of connecting with Tropicana. It also helps that my cousin Rallitsa is related to Giannis and Taxia by marriage.

Bill Cotsis never tuns his back on a Greek establishment even one in Brazil. Photo: Bill Cotsis

We can all share stories of Greek businesses, post about them, tell the Greek and mainstream media, and tell our friends. Many of my friends have been to Tropicana and loved it for example. Here is what we can do to help:

  •      Find and visit a Greek business, on a small island or in another country
  •      Get to know them, record a short video off your phone while you’re there
  •      Like their social media
  •      Share their stories
  •      Speak Greek to them
  •      Tell your friends to visit
  •      Share your experience with Greek and other media
  •      Keep in touch
  •      Visit again
  •      Keep a poster/souvenir from their premises at your workplace/home
  •      Let me know about them
O Greco in Brazil. Photo: Supplied

Next time you are anywhere in the world, a small non-touristy Greek island, or a non-Greek city, find a Greek business. Our support encourages them and supports our diaspora. It also helps fill my belly as we support Hellenism.

Billy Cotsis is the author of The Aegean Seven, Take Back The Marbles and his Greko/Griko documentaries.