What do you do after selling 3,000 copies of your first book? You write another one, of course.
George Giannaris, owner of the Hellenic Snack Bar, has just released a second book about his family and its East Marion restaurant, titled “Ferry Tales II: When Hellenic Freezes Over.”
The first book was a self-published memoir looking back at his family and the history of the restaurant, which opened on July 4, 1976.
“I collected a bunch of stories about my life, mostly about the past,” Giannaris said. “The second book, Ferry Tales II, is more real stories when they occurred.”
The second book is also self-published, but this time with pictures and recipes from the eatery.
“The pictures and recipes are in there because that was the biggest complaint from readers who bought the first book,” Giannaris said. “I don’t consider it a cookbook, I do consider it a mix of comical stories, deep philosophical thoughts and recipes.”
The title, “Ferry Tales II,” refers to the nearby ferry lines in Orient and Shelter Island and their crucial relationship with the restaurant.
“Every facet of my life can be rooted back to a cause or effect because of that ferry,” Giannaris said. “I wouldn’t be that busy if there was no ferry, definitely not in the winter … everyday I’m constantly reminded of the ferry.”
In his latest book, Giannaris writes with humor about about owning a restaurant and he called it a must-read for anyone thinking of opening one.
“In chapter 1, I describe the right way to make a BLT and it’s literally eight pages long,” he said. “When people see the intensity that goes behind a great meal, they’ll have a better appreciation of what goes behind a successful restaurant.”
Some of the book’s funnier episodes include encounters with celebrities, who’ve frequented Hellenic over the years. Giannaris writes about saving Billy Joel from an annoying fan with a plate of tapas, getting up the nerve to speak to Paul Giamatti and a hilarious episode when a waiter with a very thick accent tried to tell him one of the biggest rock bands ever was in the restaurant:
“De who is dare.”
“Ouside…der who, is ouside.”
“I couldn’t understand him, so I agreed with him and kept cutting lettuce. A few minutes later I noticed a lot of unusual commotion from the server station. I walked out to see what everyone was clamoring about, when I caught a glimpse from my side vision of a table of men standing up to leave. Sure enough, “de who” was “The Who.”
“I watched as they entered their vehicles and left. I turned away from the window and the verbally impaired server was standing off in the distance with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face. It was the first time in my life that I could taste the thrill of strangulation.”
Hellenic will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Monday, July 4th, Independence Day, with food, Greek music and dancing out on the lawn from 7 to 10 p.m. Then on Saturday, July 9 they’ll have a book signing party from 3 to 5 p.m. with free appetizers.
Copies of “Ferry Tales II” are available at the restaurant and on Amazon.com.
Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant is located at 5145 Main Road in East Marion. For more information call (631) 477-0138 or visit thehellenic.com.