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Go Greek – The Evolution of Ottawa’s Freshest Franchise

In 2016, Ottawa’s very own George Plagakis embarked on a mission to create more than just a restaurant; he sought to encapsulate his community-minded ethos and Greek upbringing in a unique culinary experience. The result was PI·RHO Fresh Greek Grill, a place where timeless old-world recipes meet new world preferences.

He built it carefully. PI·RHO Grill wasn’t solely about Mediterranean cuisine; it represented a commitment to health conscious, locally sourced and gourmet dishes, served efficiency and convenience, while offering a restaurant ambiance that extended a warm invitation to linger and savour the moment.

Collaborating with his longtime friend and renowned chef, Luis Molina, Plagakis delivered Ottawans a fast-casual twist on the Greek Mediterranean tradition. From sourcing local ingredients (whenever possible) to crafting authentic seasonal dishes and embracing eco-friendly packaging, PI·RHO Grill mirrors the values and lifestyles of its community. As the success of PI·RHO Grill expanded from its initial location in Barrhaven to three locations across Ottawa, it became evident that Plagakis’ vision of “fast casual” dining, unburdened by the constraints of traditional fast food, resonated not only with Ottawa but also with Canadians as a whole. Thus, that vision became a model for his franchise, set to expand across Canada, starting in the GTA.

Choose a base, enhance it with a spread or dip, add your favorite veggies or type of protein, then garnish it with a variety of toppings and your preferred dressing. That’s the concept at PI·RHO Grill, where hungry, health-conscious customers come for a gourmet bowl or pita filled with self-created goodness they might have previously believed only a Greek grandmother could prepare. Enter with an appetite, leave with an eye-catching dish of greens and grains adorned with fire-roasted eggplant, grilled meatballs, and watermelon radish, all glistening with a lemon-tahini-thyme coating. This is just one of PI·RHO Grill’s endless mix-and-match selections that Plagakis and Molina have been perfecting since 2016. For George, entrepreneurship followed an apprenticeship running his initial restaurant, followed by a role as a managing partner of Baton Rouge Restaurants, in the Ottawa/Gatineau area. Next came fatherhood (two children) and the decision to stay at home. However, being part of a family again reminded him of the cuisine and camaraderie of his Greek upbringing in Montreal. “Eating was an event,” Plagakis reminisces, “high-quality, home-cooked meals made with love.”

Plagakis’ plan was not only to offer time-tested fare but also to champion contemporary values, such as fresh and high-quality ingredients. Its beverages, including craft beers and house made teas, are locally sourced products and the greek yogourt comes from Skotidakis Goat Farms in St-Eugene, Ontario. Furthermore, PI·RHO’s packaging and cutlery are mostly compostable — “If you have something to put in the garbage, you didn’t buy it here!”, says Plagakis. The decor at each of the three existing locations is crafted from reclaimed wood, illuminated by an energy-efficient lighting system.

PI·RHO is present in Centretown, Barrhaven, and Kanata, with new locations opening in GTA in 2024. Plagakis extends an exciting opportunity to like-minded entrepreneurs, inviting them to establish their own franchise under the PI·RHO brand. “I want all Canadians to have access to PI·RHO for themselves and their families,” explains Plagakis, “to eat well and feel great afterward, and to share my upbringing with the country.”

Interested parties, particularly dedicated food enthusiasts with a strong work ethic, a firm social conscience, and an interest in fostering community, can access the franchise brochure on PI·RHO’s website. In just a few short years, George Plagakis’ vision for PI·RHO Grill has transcended culinary boundaries, offering Ottawans and Canadians alike a taste of both tradition and innovation. With its unwavering commitment to quality, freshness, sustainability, and a welcoming atmosphere, PI·RHO Grill is not merely a dining destination; it stands as a testament to the power of community values and the shared joy of healthful, delicious food. As PI·RHO Grill continues its expansion across Canada, it welcomes like-minded entrepreneurs to join this extraordinary journey, spreading the warmth and flavours of Greek heritage to every corner of the country.