Rodini Park Greek Kitchen lets you build your own wrap, bowl or salad for about ten bucks
Story by Jessica Koslow | Photos by Courtnay Robbins
Some people, under the tutelage of a parent or grandparent, open a restaurant because cooking is in their DNA. Or, a master chef might’ve inspired them in the kitchen during their first restaurant job.
Peter Georges landed in the restaurant business by happy accident. In 2003, he and his wife, actress Cathrine Georges, moved from New York to L.A. to be closer to her family and her work: She had a recurring role on “Days of Our Lives.”
“I was an executive at a tech company and could work from home,” says Georges. “Plus, L.A. seemed like a better place to raise kids.”
The restaurant business was on Georges’ bucket list. When he found himself with money to invest, he jumped into restaurants and real estate — though “I never thought either would be successful,” he admits.
But he’s now the proud co-owner of Rodini Park Greek Kitchen in North Hollywood, the popular local breakfast spot HASH on Bluff Creek Drive in The Campus at Playa Vista, and, as of March, a second Rodini Park just next door to HASH.
It’s the end of the week in the late afternoon, and Rodini Park Playa Vista is quiet. It wasn’t like this at lunchtime. Around noon, the people working in the nearby offices were lining up at the new restaurant to try homemade savory pies (spinach, cheese, leek, chicken, beef and lamb, moussaka and salmon), seven-inch gluten-free pitas, gyros, chicken shawarma and nine-inch white pitas.
LA Weekly called the Rodini Park in North Hollywood the “Chipotle of Mediterranean Food.”
“It’s build-your-own-meal here,” says Georges. “It’s hard to mess up something they’re building.”
Georges is from Astoria, Queens. His Greek mother would cook for the family of eight. His mom, however, was not a good cook.
“She gets upset when I tell her,” says Georges, laughing. “Everything was well done. She’d throw everything in a pot, turn the heat on and leave it on for hours. We had anything you could scoop over pasta or rice.”
“I was 16 the first time I tasted a medium rare steak,” he adds. “I was in heaven.”
When Georges first moved to L.A., he couldn’t find a good gyro — a real New York-style gyro, that is. In 2010, he opened two locations of Big Fat Pita, at Westfield Century City and Westfield Culver City. Both malls launched major redesigns and Georges was asked to vacate, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise (“Rent at malls is very high,” he says).
When Georges reemerged in 2016 with Rodini Park North Hollywood, the rave reviews began pouring in. LA Weekly included the baklava cheesecake in its “10 Best Cheesecakes in
Los Angeles” list. The eatery was voted “Top 50 Places to Eat in LA” by Time Out Los Angeles. Yelp ranked it “Top 100 Places to Eat for 2017.”
“We were voted Best Cheap Eats in the Valley and Best Savory Pies in L.A.,” says Georges, adding to Rodini’s list of accolades.
“I’m very grateful that I have two successful places,” he continues, referring to Rodini Park North Hollywood and HASH. “It’s tough. If you don’t deal in alcohol, it’s a nickel and dime business. We do quick serve — $10 per person. There’s very little money in that.”
Georges has a plan to take his businesses to the next level. His fourth restaurant, The Conference Room, is scheduled to open soon, also adjacent to HASH. It’ll be a gastropub with live entertainment, dance lessons, games and a 5 p.m. happy hour. The concept, he explains, is geared toward today’s younger diners: “restaurantainment.”
But for now, he’s got his hands full with three restaurants. In the next few weeks, he’ll do a catering push for Rodini Park Playa Vista.
“Disney is coming,” he says with a smile. “Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, and Fox is one of the main tenants here.”
Georges’ business seems to be keeping pace with the growing occupancy rate at The Campus at Playa Vista. At the end of the day though, Georges shares that what keeps him going is his team, who has been with him since day one.
“We’ve been together for eight years,” he says, pointing at everybody around him. “We’re like family. That’s what keeps me happy.”
Rodini Park Greek Kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 12181 Bluff Creek Drive. Enter from the courtyard; parking garage validation available. Call (310) 282-8500 or visit rodinipark.com.