Ergon goes back a long way, to when Thomas and George Douzis’ grandfather owned one of the most iconic grocery stores in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Following their father’s long and successful career in multinational food companies, the Douzis brothers chose to revisit their heritage and redefine the meaning of ‘traditional’ in regards to aesthetics and quality.
It was 2007 when they founded Ergon, a family business with three generations’ worth of experience in the food sector comprising an exceptional selection of traditional Greek products from all over the country, distributed both in Greece and abroad.
“Our basis is the essence of the word itself – ergon – a Greek word meaning work, vocation, but also the product of work,” the brothers explain.
“Our brand is a selection of premium-quality Greek products. The range consists of traditional Mediterranean products made with respect for tradition, combined with our dedication to offering added aesthetic and gastronomic value.”
In dealing with different farmers and producers from all over Greece, the Douzis family realised there was a need to establish one unifying brand, that would guarantee the overall quality of a broad and diverse product range. Every new product incorporated into the Ergon range is selected based on specific qualitative and organoleptic features; it should either be a unique product of Greek nature, an ingredient of the Greek diet, or introduce a new gastronomic element. Each of the brand’s products has a distinctive quality feature.
“We source products and create packaging to meet present-day requirements and standards, while preserving the values of the past,” Thomas and George continue, highlighting Ergon’s contemporary sensibility and usability, while at the same time it remains focused on tradition and high quality.
“People should dedicate themselves to doing what they know best – what they have been taught and love doing. This central tenet is expressed through the choice of our products. Every product series is sourced from different producers, experts in their respective fields; it has its own name and history.”
In 2008, their first branded product was created, a special variety of honey under the name Melissas [Bee’s] Ergon. In the following year, the Douzis brothers launched a series of products based on olives with PDO Kolymvari designation from Hania, Crete, under the name Elias [Olive’s] Ergon. At the same time, the Melissa series was expanded.
Three years later, they managed to offer a selection of 70 more products and opened their first concept store in Thessaloniki. A couple of months later came the first store to combine a deli and restaurant at the Sani Resort in Halkidiki, and the concept was subsequently introduced at Thessaloniki, Skiathos, Rhodes, Athens and Lefkada in Greece. All Ergon stores are set according to the same theme, while at the same time small adjustments and variations reflect the spirit of each location.
“Our efforts were aided by a rise in awareness-building around Greek gastronomy, and the growing numbers of people involved in the making of traditional Greek products,” they continue.
Currently, our products are available at 300 outlets in Greece and we have a limited presence in France, the UK, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Cyprus, Serbia, and Poland.”
In August 2008, in collaboration with the Agricultural Association ‘O Pelekanos’ of the Prespes Bean Farmers, the Douzis created the series Ghis [Earth’s] Ergon; while a new complete series of traditional pasta made with sheep’s milk from Sofades, Karditsa, was launched under the name Sitou [Wheat’s] Ergon. In September 2009, two more products were added to the Ghis Ergon series. Wild porcini mushrooms and wild truffle from the Pindos mountain range were shortly after named products of the year by the Greek newspaper To Vima and the Trofima kai Pota (Food and Beverages) industry magazine.
In January 2010, the Macedonian brand launched a new category of seafood spreads along with the famous tuna from Alonissos island, under the name Thalassas [Sea’s] Ergon. The range was placed in Greek duty free shops and the Sitou Ergon cracked wheat won an award at the Gourmet Awards of the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia.
Less than a year later, the first Ergon Greek Deli store opened in Thessaloniki’s most prominent location, at the intersection of Tsimiski and Gr. Palama Streets. Meanwhile, the first Ergon Greek Deli-Restaurant opened at the Sani Resort Marina in Kassandra, Halkidiki in June 2011. In addition to the delicatessen, the same space hosted a classic Greek meze restaurant, offering a menu of traditional Greek flavours re-imagined by the famous chef Dimitris Skarmoutsos, who applied his considerable and unconventional talents to redefining the traditional Greek meze for the restaurant’s menu.
Skarmoutsos loves to push culinary boundaries without losing sight of the food’s origin. The team chose not to recreate old-style delis from the past, but to design a new, modern space that would showcase staple, and not so known to the wider public, Greek gourmet treasures.
In their attempt to redefine the term ‘traditional Greek’ both aesthetically and quality-wise, they came across a dilemma.
“Does ‘traditional’ mean ‘old’? We wanted to ensure that our deli reflects the flavours, images and memories evoked by every single Greek product we stock,” the brothers emphasise.
“The constant need for evolution and expansion brought to us many distinguished and young Greek chefs. The network of chefs of our stores in partnership with the chefs of the company creates a constantly changing seasonal menu enriched with local ingredients and recipes of every place.”
The Douzis family has become a successful group of passionate people sharing a love for and knowledge of Greek cuisine and gastronomy, eager to experiment with new recipes and techniques coupled with the wide range of the brand’s products.
For more information, visit www.ergonfoods.com/