The owner of the Greek Food Mart at 5646 Price Road on the western tip of Hall County claims that at the age of 75 he’s working longer hours than when he was a younger man.
Iraj Sarafi says he’s at his store from 9 in the morning until 9 at night, and when he gets home he may spend another three hours updating his business ledger.
Sarafi attended a Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting this week where the first reading of his request for a beer and wine license sailed through without opposition.
The license will come in handy for the potato bar Sarafi plans to introduce next week at his store. He hopes the idea will become a prototype for a franchise.
“This is the nation of the immigrant,” Sarafi said. “It’s also the land where dreams can become reality not matter your age.”
Part Greek and Turkish, Sarafi said potato bars are popular in both countries.
“The potato is very healthy, just look it up,” Sarafi said. “It’s good for the heart.”
Sarafi said his mother lived well past 100 and his father until he was 98. Both made the potato a big part of their diet, he added.
Sarafi said the big potatoes will be baked in the store’s oven until they are perfectly tender. The customer then gets to top off the hot potato with an assortment of 12 or more toppings, including olives, chives, onions, peppers, bacon and cheese.
Sarafi will engage visitors in conversation in the manner of the Old World marketplace. His helper, Nilo, a young woman with roots in the Middle East, is equally friendly and talkative, as she serves Hunt Pizza to customers.
Asked if they were part of a larger community of people with roots in the Mediterranean and Middle East, Sarafi and Nilo, who declined to give her last name, shrugged and said they didn’t know.
If you stay at his store long enough, Sarafi turns philosophical — a modern day Plato and Aristotle.
“There are two kinds of energy that moves in this universe,” he said. “One is positive and the other negative. People are like that too.”
Just as quickly, Sarafi comes back from his lofty thoughts to lament the time and money it takes to get a beer and wine license.
“It’s too much for a small business,” he said. “They should try to help the small business more.”
Sarafi said his strategy for success in what he wants to do at his Greek Food Mart focuses on three principles — good atmosphere, good service and best quality.
“Right now, we’re preparing for better business,” he said.