by Larry Austin
The first of what could be many Theodore's restaurants in Western New York had its official ribbon-cutting and opening Tuesday on Grand Island.
The new eatery is already enjoying a similar warm welcome another Buffalo-area restaurant chain, Mighty Taco, had earlier in the year. Business volume at the location, 1752 Grand Island Blvd., was heavy during the ribbon-cutting event.
"We couldn't have asked for a better reception. People have been warm and receptive and genuine. I mean, it's been wonderful," said Ted Liaros, calling the sincere appreciation of his customers "a great start to what I think is going to be many years of success on the Island."
GI is not just the first location of a Theodore's, but the home of its corporate offices, also located in the plaza, owned by Larry Playfair. Chief Financial Officer Beth Liaros said Playfair "introduced" the company to the Island.
"It's also going to be our corporate headquarters," said company President Ted Liaros, Beth's husband, at the ribbon-cutting. "Going forward as we look to open more Theodore's, this is definitely going to be home base, and we couldn't be happier that it's on the Island."
Adding a corporate headquarters is a promising development, said business leaders.
"Anything that can be headquartered on Grand Island certainly will help us bring more people to the Island for the same reason from a business standpoint," said Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President Eric Fiebelkorn.
Ted Liaros is the grandson of the founder of Ted's hot dog restaurant, Theodore Spiro Liaros, but Theodore's is not affiliated with Ted's. Beth Liaros said her father-in-law cut business ties with her husband in September.
"He's been in the business his whole life," Beth said of her husband. "So we came to work and do what we do best."
What the restaurant does best is offer "Good food cooked to order. It's all fresh, never frozen," she said.
Beth Liaros said the Theodore's menu will include its own distinct offerings, including frings (half french fries, half onion rings) and the World Famous Kilroy, a dry rub seasoned chicken.
Theodore's has hired a long list of experienced hands from the Ted's chain and employ 35 to 40 employees, many from the Island.
"The new employees we've had from Grand Island High School, what a great group of kids," Ted Liaros said. "It seems like a real nice family atmosphere, so that's worked out well for us, too."
Fiebelkorn said the expansion of the meal and dining choices on the Island comes from a family of workers who have the interests of the community at heart.
"I think it's good people who have a solid community foundation, so they're always good partners to add to our community here, which as we know is very tight knit," he said. "I think they're going to be loyal to the community, and I have a feeling the community's going to be very loyal to them. They make a great product and we're excited to have them."