In this local business feature, we were really lucky to have spoken to the owner of one of the most lauded restaurants in Burnaby Heights: Socrates in the Heights. Alex Zoubos, owner and experienced chef, tells us his story and that of his restaurant, while also giving us an insight into life in this great part of North Burnaby.
If you haven’t been to Socrates just yet, be sure to head over for dinner. You might just find a free table for their Valentines Special evening! On February 13th and 14th, Alex and Socrates will be serving up a special three-course menu including a delightful kalamata olive tapenade, thalassinomakaronada (which is a staple Greek seafood pasta), and chocolate and greek yoghurt cheesecake – book us in please Alex!
Let’s get into it!
The Story of Socrates in the Heights
I was really interested to hear about how Alex came to start his business in Burnaby, what followed was a bit of a trip down memory lane and my own fond memories of Greece. “As a child, I vividly remember spending time in the Tavernas on my visits to Greece. There is something really special and really different about Greek food, I remember eating the best grilled meat of my life over there.”
Greek cuisine is well known for the incredible flavours and colourful plates Alex told us. “Fresh flavours really bring Greek food to life. Just the simple addition of fresh lemon juice to grilled meat made me think wow, yes, this is how meat is supposed to taste.” We certainly couldn’t argue with that!
Alex told us about so many other parts of the cuisine that are unique to Greece, such as a range of fruit beverages. “There are these really great Lemonda and Portokalada (lemonade and orangeade) that are unique to Greece, kids absolutely love them!”
All in all, it is the combination of fresh produce and flavours, meat that comes straight from the butcher and on to the grill, and the methods of which these are combined that Alex appreciates most about Greek food.
The student becomes the master
Alex spent a lot of his career working alongside his father in the kitchen of his restaurant for 23 years. After their really successful time together and having felt strongly that he wanted to recreate the memories of Greece, Alex set out to forge a path on his own.
“I wanted to be different from the other Greek places in and around Vancouver. I felt strongly that there were standards that needed to be elevated in Vancouver and I wanted to try to bring the quality of Greece here to share with our neighbours. I’d been learning from my father for 23 years, who had been cooking traditional Greek food for 25 years before that! It was time for me to start something on my own.”
The stories of Socrates’ success
Alex has a passion for sharing what he loves with locals and tourists alike. It is a testament to the quality of their food and service that they have managed well during these really difficult times. “I just love to see and hear people enjoying themselves, the most important thing for me is that people are enjoying what they are eating and they see it as really good value.”
The modest prices position Socrates in favour of most budgets, Alex and his team can also offer larger scale catering to weddings and functions (when it is safe to do them again of course!). Locals often describe the value for money as a real winning factor to Socrates. Added to this are consistently fresh food, great portions, and a wholesome, family atmosphere that have really put Socrates on the map.
When asked about the amazing reviews that keep on rolling in, Alex commented “I’m really overjoyed with all of the great feedback we’ve been getting so far, it is really humbling. At the end of the day, this feedback is the only thing we care about, it lets us know that people are happy and appreciating the things that we are doing.”
“It encourages you to keep pushing the standards. We want to be known for Burnaby’s freshest Greek food.”
The community of Burnaby Heights
We love Burnaby Heights, it really is one of the great neighbourhoods in Vancouver. Not only is it really diverse and home to amazing restaurants such as Socrates, but it has a real community feel which can be lacking in other areas of Vancouver.
We asked Alex what his favourite things about the neighbourhood are. “I’ve actually only been in this neighbourhood for two years, so I’m still quite new here, but it has been a really great two years. I’ve found it to be a really friendly neighbourhood, you know it is busy, but it feels almost like a city of people within a city. There is such a vibrancy, people around are really friendly and all of the local businesses support each other.”
“In five words? Friendly, supportive, lively, diverse, bright.”
We want to thank Alex for his time and opening up his world to us during his busy schedule. Just can’t wait to head down there soon and tuck into the Souvlaki!
We love sharing stories of our communities. If you’d like to share one with us reach out to us! For more information on Burnaby and support working through the real estate market, contact us today.
Until next time!