Helen and George Georgakis are retiring on Saturday, June 22, after 32 years of owning and operating Trackside Restaurant.


All good things must come to an end, and after 32 years of being a Downtown Mooresville staple, Trackside Restaurant will close its doors for good on Saturday, June 22.

Owners George and Helen Georgakis hope the coming week at Trackside will be filled with familiar faces — customers who have become more like family over the years — smiles and only happy tears as the couple closes one chapter of life and steps into another: retirement.

“I want to see everybody and thank everybody for all the memories,” Helen said.

The popular restaurant and meeting spot at 233 S. Broad Street will be open Monday through Friday this week from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Saturday, its last day, the restaurant’s hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rise Café (Birkdale Village) will move into the Trackside building to establish a second location for its family-owned and operated breakfast and lunch restaurant.

“After 32 or 33 years, it’s time to retire,” Helen said from a booth at Trackside on Friday afternoon. “We’ve been ready for a while.”

What do retirement plans look like?

“Just relaxing,” Helen said.

But George may have different ideas. “Nobody can keep me down,” he said, smiling.

Frances Katsoudas, the Georgakis’ niece who helps manage Trackside, nodded at Helen: “She’s going to Greece.”

The original Trackside Restaurant opened in 1993.

George and Helen share a captivating history. Although they are both from Greece, they didn’t meet until they were in America.

“There’s no way we could have met in Greece because we were on different sides,” Helen explained. “Somebody told him about me before I ever even came from Greece.”

George immigrated to the U.S. in 1969, and Helen’s move followed a year later. “My family was here, and George just wanted to come to America,” Helen said.

They’ve now been married 52 years and share two daughters (and sons-in-law) and four grandchildren.

George kissed Helen on the arm and spoke in Greek. Frances translated: “He said, ‘She’s a diamond.’ ”

Helen’s father was a tailor, and she became a seamstress, at one point working at an expensive cloth shop.

“I stayed home and fixed my own dresses,” she said. “I wanted to stay home to raise my kids.”

George, on the other hand, has spent most of his life in the food service industry, being well-known for owning the Acropolis in the Eastland Mall food court from 1975 to 1983.

George Georgakis is pictured behind the original Trackside counter.

The Georgakises have saved newspaper clippings over the years, including a June 29, 2010, Charlotte Observer article about the closing of Eastland Mall. A column quotes people about their mall memories.

“A gregarious, kind man named George Georgakis gave me my very first job working throughout high school at the Acropolis restaurant in the food court,” a woman named Lori Wilson said. “George brought the family recipes from Greece and paid us girls $3 an hour to work mostly on Saturdays from 12-5 p.m. during school. My best customer was Ric Flair because he was larger than life and always left us a big tip.”

After selling the Acropolis, George opened The Plantation Restaurant on South Boulevard in Charlotte, which stayed open for three years.

A 1993 clipping from the Mooresville Tribune announced that Trackside, which at the time was across the railroad tracks from its current location, won the Town of Mooresville’s Beautification Award. “The treats from the kitchen are not the only thing worth recognition at Trackside Restaurant,” the May 26 post read.

Helen read aloud from a separate newspaper column titled Out to Lunch, which she has displayed in a picture frame. It quotes George: “I have professors at Davidson College; when they see my name in Lake Norman Magazine, they come over here. Of course, I give ‘em food. I was the one who brought the gyro in the pita bread to North Carolina. The pita bread, gyros, souvlakis — I brought them to Charlotte for the first time. You couldn’t even find them in the groceries.”

Frances said her uncle’s souvlakis remain one of the most popular items on Trackside’s menu.

George and Helen didn’t know anything about Mooresville when they first heard of the town just north of their Charlotte home. They were looking to open another restaurant in downtown Charlotte when “a lady approached us and said, ‘My brother has a place in Mooresville,’ and we said, ‘Where’s Mooresville?’ ” Helen recalled. “Burlington Mills was still open at that time.”

The lady’s brother, who happens to also be Greek, owned the building (and still does, Frances said) at 260 S. Main Street, which had housed a Hardee’s before it closed.

The Georgakises leased the space from him, and the rest is history. “We did good from the first day we opened,” Helen recalled. “Lake Norman Magazine called our salads mountainous!”

The restaurant sat 44 people at the time and accepted local checks but no credit cards. A Greek salad cost $3.75 in 1993, and a meal for seven was $45.54 plus a tip, according to the Out for Lunch column.

Years later, Trackside would move across the railroad tracks to its current location on South Broad, which was once home to Greg’s BBQ then Sam & Syd’s Place.

What will Helen miss the most about Trackside?

“Her niece,” Frances interjected, laughing. “I know I’m gonna miss my aunt. I’m going to miss both of them.”

Frances has spent many years of her life working at Trackside, taking a break only to work at What-A-Burger for a while. “I raised my daughter working at Trackside,” Frances said. “This place raised my daughter.”

Shutting a door to open another one is bittersweet, Helen said.

“We have girls who worked for us when they were teenagers, and now they’re married with kids and come in here. One of our waitresses here now worked here when she was a teen.

“I will miss our customers and all the people who work for us,” Helen said. “I’m going to miss them all.”

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