Friends team up to run their old food hangout
John Mola, a Norridge native who now lives in Elk Grove, is a co-owner of Twins Gyros in Harwood Heights. He and longtime friend Demetrios "Jim" Mougolias, of Harwood Heights, celebrated four years of ownership in April. Twins has been around 15 years. |
NAME: Twin Gyros
ADDRESS: 4870 N. Harlem Ave., Harwood Heights
CONTACT: (708) 867-1313; http://www.twinsgyros.net/index.html
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:18PM
Jim and John were just a couple of kids who lived around the corner from each other in Harwood Heights. Sometimes, when they hung out, they’d go to Twins Gyros on Harlem in Harwood Heights.
They each wanted to own their own restaurant one day.
However, when they grew up, they pursued different careers. Jim, whose birth name is Demetrios Mougolias, went into the jewelry business and became a village trustee, and John Mola sold real estate.
But, just over four years ago, the friends saw an opportunity to live out their dream as restaurateurs and bought their old hang-out — Twins Gyros.
Mougolias said Twins has been around 15 years and that he and Mola are the third owners.
“We saw this location and knew the potential of the location,” Mola said.
They tweaked the menu a bit including adding homemade soups, they added delivery service and opened up a patio that seats about 40 customers.
But, perhaps most important, they made community the heart of everything they do. The friendship between a couple of local guys has set the tone at Twins.
“Most of our customers are regulars,” Mougolias said. “We know the names of all the customers, we talk to each other. They know our families and we know their families. So, it’s a family atmosphere. And, even if you’re new to the restaurant, we sit down with a lot of the new customers and talk with them.”
Mola added, “We pride ourselves on trying to take care of the customers and give back to the community. That’s a big part of our business, the community.”
Fundraising and sponsorship are a large part of the restaurant’s identity.
Since Mougolias and Mola have owned Twins, they’ve raised funds for local schools, churches, parks, veterans associations, Scouts and disease research. They’ve also sponsored youth sports teams.
“We both grew up in this community and we’re still involved in the community,” Mougolias said. “We feel like we want to give back. We grew up here and we want our kids to grow up here.”
It’s business-savvy too. Their support of local organizations is as good as any advertising, Mougolias added.
However, you can’t discount the food and service that also keeps customers coming back. Although it’s primarily a gyro place, Twins’ menu also includes hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken dishes, sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts.
Mougolias and Mola have different philosophies on whether putting ketchup on a hot dog is acceptable, though. But, like friends who respect each other and their larger circle of friends, the customers, they disagree civilly on this touchy subject.
Mougolias frowns upon it.
“We don’t ostracize anybody doing it, but we do not put it on as a condiment. If you ask for it, we will put it on,” he laughed.
Mola says it’s OK.
“I don’t frown upon it,” he said. “Especially having kids. I remember growing up as a kid, I was a big ketchup-on-my-hotdog fan. Even as adults... we’re all kids at heart. If it’s a traditional Chicago hot dog, it’s without ketchup. But, we’ll squeeze it on there for anyone.”
“But, our main thing here is the gyros,” Mougolias said. “We sell more gyros than anything else.”