When you think Jefferson City, you think of Arris’ Pizza. I almost can’t imagine the Capital City without this longtime famous pizza shop, and everyone has to stop at Arris’ when they visit. We all love it!
In fact, without it, I might not be here, either!
It starts with my grandfather, George, who made a good life for himself here after coming to this country from Greece, but he was lonely . . . until he met a sweet and beautiful woman who worked at McKinney’s Cafe (now The Grand Cafe) downtown. She was already married, but she had a sister in Greece. Upon showing my grandfather a photo of her sister, my grandmother, he fell in love and decided he would find and marry her, and he did. He traveled to Leontario, Greece, and married my grandmother. He brought her to Jefferson City, where they celebrated over 60 years of marriage.
They loved this country and this city. They worked hard and lived downtown, saving enough to build Tergin Apartments, one block south of the Capitol, where they raised two children. To this day, people still talk about George and Ourania, whom I am named after (Carrie Ourania) — how pretty she was, how my grandparents worked together at their dry cleaning business on High Street, and how they walked hand-in-hand uptown.
I can’t walk into The Grand Cafe, looking up at that original tin ceiling, without thinking about the love that started there with just a girl in a photo and my grandfather deciding he would go to the other side of the world to find her.
My dad’s story is similar. He traveled to Greece for a summer vacation. Unlike my grandfather, he did not have a photo, but he did end up with a wedding! Arris invited my dad, Jim, to come along on a visit to his hometown in Katerini, Greece, which is where Jim met my mom. An interesting history and love story, across the ocean. Can you imagine what that must have been like? It’s summertime and there’s my mom, getting ready to start college with a career in mind to teach the English language . . . and then this handsome Greek-American young man shows up and sweeps her off her feet, literally off to America! I’m guessing they would have said “no” if I said I’d be going to another country at that young age, but I’m thankful that, despite the long distance between these families, they connected, and the rest is history. And I’m glad my dad accepted Arris’ invitation on that summer vacation!
Where do we get our love and interests? We all came from love in one way or another. Love and family shaped us into who we are. I can clearly see my mayoral path when looking at my family tree. The oldest of three, I was the big sister who already ruled over little brother and sister, George and Helen, before I “ruled” the Capital City. I made up clear rules, establishing exactly what they were allowed to do.
People also say they turn into their parents. If I could turn into a small portion of what my parents are, I’d be lucky and thankful! From my dad, who is also talented in art, I inherited the best customer service skills. From mom, there’s the ability to get things done, almost magically. Her baklava, though? Nobody can match it! Maybe I will someday . . . that sweet dessert, dripping with honey and everything good, comes from Greece, just like our family. It’s a love story so sweet, only baklava is sweeter!