CHESHIRE — Minas and Hope Halkias sat at Cheshire Pizza’s high-topped counter bar Friday, pausing before the morning routine ahead of the lunchtime rush, and reminisced about their family-run business.
On Monday, the longtime owners officially retire after nearly 40 years and hand the reins to their daughter, Rita Magriplis, and son-in-law, Dimitrios Magriplis.
“It was time to relax, it’s a tough business, it’s day and night,” Minas Halkias said.
Minas Halkias came to the United State from Greece in 1963 and later returned to Greece and met his wife. Years later, daughter Rita went to Greece and met her husband on the same island where her parents met.
The Halkias’ opened the Highland Avenue business on Feb. 22, 1977. Their Greek-style food has since been a staple for many residents.
“My customers kept telling me to keep the business in the family... and that’s what we did,” Hope Halkias said.
Starting Tuesday, the restaurant will close for about three months for renovations.
“I don’t want people to get scared... it’s still staying in the family and the connection that the customers feel is my number one priority,” Dimitrios Magriplis said. “It will be a more updated environment that will support and promote a place of gathering.” Renovations will include a new kitchen and main floor layout as well as a new patio.
Although her parents are retiring, the atmosphere will remain, Rita Magriplis said.
“It’s important for us to make sure the family tradition keeps going, people come in to see the family and to feel that comfort,” she said.
Hope Halkias will miss coming to work each day.
“I am going to miss my customers, they are my friends and, after 40 years, they’ve become my family,” she said. “I spend so much time here and they are the ones I’m always with”
The pizza restaurant was once home to Saint Bridget’s Church. The land was first purchased for $200 in 1855 by Father Hugh O’Reilly.
“I’ve had people coming in here telling me that they were married and baptized in this very building,” Minas Halkias said.
Prior to any renovations, the family hired a professional photographer to document the restaurant, and the family.
A retirement party will be held Monday at 5:30 at Cheshire Pizza, 133 Highland Ave.
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