Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food & beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Yianni Kosmides, Co-Founder of Apóla Greek Grill, located in Irvine, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am Yianni Kosmides, I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Apóla Greek Grill. This fast-casual brand has three current locations (soon to be 5) in Southern California. Authentic Greek cuisine is an under-represented category in the food industry. Still, my brother Stefano and I have steadily grown Apóla's presence in the SoCal area.

Apóla serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert and truly has something for everyone, from classic gyros (chicken, pork, shrimp, beef and lamb) fries, soup, and salads, and even has gluten-free, vegan, and meatless options.

Tell us about yourself

Our dad used to own restaurants, and our summer vacation mainly consisted of my brother and me helping out at the restaurants! After college, the financial crisis in Greece hit, so we decided to get into the restaurant business since it was something we "knew" from when we were kids. What made me love this business is the customer interaction and the actual impact that even a small local restaurant can have on its community.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

While many restaurants struggled during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the hard work and dedication of our team Apóla Greek Grill came out of it with growing sales and excellent customer reviews, leading the brand to be recognized among the Top 5 in the national publication Fast Casual's "Best Brands to Watch" in 2021, despite only having two local restaurants at that time.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest part of being a business owner in this industry with Apóla is realizing that the success or failure of the business falls on you. From hiring the right team, practical training, cost controls, etc., there are so many moving pieces that you constantly have to be on top of - and if you're not, you're paying the price by either loss of revenue, loss of profit, loss of customers, or even loss of team members.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Be patient and stay focused! We get increasingly used to instant gratification and immediate results, and we forget that things take time! Be consistent and persistent, and with time, you can make anything happen!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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