In August of 1966, John and Asiemoula Papadopoulos opened up the first Athens Pizza in a little northeastern Connecticut town called Putnam.
Paper plates were used and drinks were served from a Coke machine. Although only 10” pizza, sandwiches called “grinders,” and spaghetti were sold, everything was homemade – from the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Our traditionally “New England Style” pizza crust had been adopted by most Greek owned pizza shops across the New England area, and has come to be known now as “Greek Style Pizza.” John and Asiemoula were the first ones to bring this type of pizza to the South.
In the summer of 1977, they opened up their first Athens Pizza House in Decatur and it has been a local favorite ever since. People in the Atlanta area have grown up on Athens Pizza. Even after a major face lift in 1991, the food has not changed, and it still hasn’t to this day, and neither has the spirit of the founders. The same delicious recipes are used, and even some new ones have been introduced and loved. Athens Pizza has always been proud to say that they are a family restaurant, from the owners to the patrons. We have always been family owned and operated, and even though our founding father, John, passed away in 2002, Asiemoula and their youngest son Sandy continue to make sure that the spirit of the Papadopoulos family emanates. You can still taste the love that we put in our food, the same way we did from our days in Putnam, Connecticut.
We love to hear stories of our long time customers, from not only the Atlanta area, but from those that have moved from Atlanta to all points across the country, and the memories that we’ve helped them have over the past 35 years. We hope to continue to serve the Atlanta community, and establish even more memories for all of our loyal customers, as well as our new customers. We hope you enjoy your visit with us, as many others have in the past, and will in the future. It is because of our incredible customers that this family restaurant, started by two Greek immigrants, has been a long-standing Atlanta tradition. We hope to continue to pass our legacy on to future generations, and make even more pleasant memories full of great food and great family atmosphere!
Making Greek Pizza Famous
A lot of you have asked us “what’s the difference between Greek pizza and regular ordinary type pizza?”
So, we did a little bit of research and here’s what we’ve come up with. Greek pizza is an ordinary pizza whose base is made in the Greek style. It is standard dough, but has an oily springy texture and is much thicker than an Italian pizza base. The dough is rolled out, and placed into a pan instead of directly onto the bricks of the pizza oven. As a result it can be more easily cooked in a regular oven. Sometimes honey and oil are added to the dough as well. To stop the pizza from sticking, oil is rubbed onto the cooking pan. Greek pizza became popular in America at the same time as the New York pizza during the early 1900s. By the 1930s, 50,000 Greek immigrants lived in New York and they had opened a large number of Greek restaurants. Most of these restaurants sold pizza in addition to other Greek dishes. Despite direct competition from Italian pizzerias, Greek pizza became very popular and slowly spread throughout the USA, and predominately in the New England area, where that style of pizza had been labeled “New England Style” pizza. Since most of the owners of these types of pizza restaurants were Greek, the term “Greek Pizza” took over, and has since become the norm for this type of pizza throughout the USA.
On another note, Greeks can trace their pizza roots all the way back to Ancient times where they cooked various vegetables and herbs onto flatbreads. They called these “πλακουντος” (pronounced pla-KOUN-tos), and it was documented as such in many ancient Greek writings. The Greeks were known to basically use the flatbread as a form of a plate, which was then adopted by the Romans.