INDIANAPOLIS — In the heart of Indianapolis, you'll find Giorgio's Pizza.
"We got pizza. We got calzones. We got spaghetti and meatballs. We got Italian sausages," said George Stergiopoulos.
In addition to New York-style pizza, you'll find George Stergiopoulos, the shop's charismatic owner who everyone knows by a different name.
"Big George. Everybody calls me Big George," Stergiopoulos said.
On any given day you'll find Big George greeting customers by their first name, even through the toughest days of the pandemic. But as college sports brings potential customers to Indy, you'd be hard-pressed to find Big George in a better mood.
"I'm fired up man. Look, when people come in the pizza place and I ask is it for here or to go and they say I'm eating here, I could almost come over the counter and hug them," Stergiopoulos said.
Big George and Giorgio's Pizza are among the lucky ones Monument Circle, after surviving the year 2020 and the pandemic that forced restaurants to close around this time last year.
"It's definitely been a difficult year and unfortunately we've lost a lot of business, but we were able, by being smart and being hands-on and spending a lot of time on our business to hang on," Stergiopoulos said.
Big George said the number of downtown workers still working from home has kept business slower than normal. That's why he's hoping an influx of college sports fans in town for the month of March will help pick up the slack.
"It's gonna be nice to see people downtown, scooters going, it's kind of a circle we all feed each other. It's going to be nice to have people down here it really is," Stergiopoulos said.
Giorgio's Pizza is ready to expand hours if there is a demand during the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. But if you know Big George then you know he's hoping his downtown neighbors succeed and visitors to the city support true small businesses.
"Local, local, local. The Giorgio's, The Soupremacy's, The Greek Islands, The Iozzo's, Shapiro's, I mean the list goes on and on," Stergiopoulos said.