George D. | Cook/Greeter
Years of Industry Service: 60
George, his brother and their Hungarian-born parents were "refugees from Hitler," thus his brother was born in Turkey while he was born in Cyprus. He grew up in East Africa, specifically Kenya and his father spoke nine languages. He came to Kansas City in 1954 with a scholarship to The University of Kansas. "I fell in love with the place and here I am." George has no regrets about where his life has taken him. "There are no regrets, you learn a lot," he says. "In the long run, the knowledge you acquire, you cannot buy."
Before George came to Grinders, he had his own place on Main Street for 24 years, George's Cheese and Sausage Shop. All his employees were students from the Kansas City Art Institute and he never had to hire anyone. The seniors brought in their own replacements. "In 24 years, I was never short a nickel," he said. "That was the caliber of the students. Some of the kids still come here (to Grinder's) with their kids." Twelve years ago, he lost the lease to his shop on 4546 Main. That space is now occupied by The Salon. Local Kansas City icon Stretch had asked George to help him open up Grinders, and he said he'd do it on one condition: get a truck and come pick up all the tables and silverware from his former shop. The wooden tables you now eat on and rest your beers upon are all formerly from George's Cheese and Sausage Shop, tables well-loved and well-used for the past 36 years.
George also worked for employee-owned grocery store, Hy-Vee. He was a greeter and won the Legendary Customer Service Award from the company. His face is on their delivery trucks and the gold ring he wears on his left hand represents his years of outstanding service. George says, "In other words, I did a good job for them."
And long before he started his career in the service industry, George was a photographer, shooting with a Leica, and mostly in black and white. Color film was too expensive. These days, he is taking computer classes at Johnson County Community College which is free for senior citizens. He cooks Hungarian food for Grinder's customers on Mondays. The rest of the time, he comes in and is a greeter, talking to customers and keeping active. "It's a lot of fun doing this, working here," he said. "It's better than sitting at home watching Oprah."
Make KC Better » Keep doing what you're doing, open friendliness.
This is an asylum for people to come for peace and to make a life.