The Greek Way

Written by Written by Susan Ladd of the Times Staff .

Pride. Hard work. Determination.  Those are the words people use to explain the success of Bill Pappas, owner of Baldino's Sub Shops.

Its the only way an immigrant who knew two sentencesoriginal baldinos of English when he arrived in this country 14 years ago could have built such a thriving business with four franchises, and more in the planning.

Like many Greeks who have settled in the Fayetteville area, Bill Pappas came to America to escape the depressed economy of Greece and find better working opportunities.  And like many Greeks in this area, he went into the restaurant business.

" If you don't speak English, but you can work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, what else is there?" he says.

Pappas came to Fayetteville from Greece in 1968.  Like many immigrants, he already had family here, two brothers.  Pappas worked and saved and in 1977, bought the original Baldino's on Bragg Boulevard.

Four years later, he has four additional franchises, and is planning several more.  He likes the sandwich shop type of restaurant because it moves fast, and gets lots of traffic throughout the day.

" I always wanted a little better than the traditional Greek joint- you know, greasy, beef stew," he says.  "I work like a Greek and try to think like an American. If you can do that, you'll be successful."

Pappas loves this country and its people.  He married an American five years ago, and has two sons.  But he also wants to preserve his Greek heritage.

"I want to teach them the language. They understand Greek that's spoken to them, but can't speak it yet," Pappas says.  "My house in Greece is in my son's name.  I want them to know the place I came from."

But Pappas says he's content to stay in America, and has no plans to return to his homeland permanently.

" The place I came from was beautiful, but the opportunities to make it are better here.  I miss Greece.  I'd like to go back for a vacation, but not to stay."

Pappas has a sister also living in this country now, but his parents and four more sisters still live in Greece.  Pappas would like to bring the rest of his family to Fayetteville.

" They have come to visit and they love it here," he says.

Pappas also plans to make Baldino's a family business.  His son John is only 7 weeks old, and Peter is 4.

" But when he gets older, he'll be working at the slicing machine," Pappas says.  "My brother used to pay his son $1 a day to wash dishes at his business.  He is a lawyer today, you see."

Hard work.  Determination. Pride.  These things surface again and again with Pappas.  He's not the kind of businessman to farm out his responsibilities. Most days you will find him behind the counter, slicing meat and cheese for sandwiches.  Pappas works a minimum of 16 hours a day.

" If I'm not in the back, I miss something," he says.  "Besides, I'm the best sandwich-maker of all.  It's a challenge.  It makes me feel good.  If I didn't have responsibilities, I wouldn't know what to do.  I don't know what to do now when I have a day off."

It's his drive that has made Pappas so successful since he opened his first shop in 1977.  He hopes by the end of the year to open a new central shop on Owen Drive.

" I want it to be a showcase," he says.  "It will have a Mediterranean look.  I want it to have a nice, nice atmosphere."

He has two other additional location in mind for future shops. When
completed, he will have established eight additional franchises from his original sub shop.

Not bad for a man who came to this country only able to say, "I love you" and "Sit down" in English.

" I feel the same way I did when I came here 14 years ago," he says.  "If you want to work, you'll make it."