I am sitting at Souvlaki George just offside of the Loyola Campus.
I’ve been here no more than 2 times prior to this during my lifetime,
and in all honesty, had forgotten about it until now. Once was during
CEGEP, when my ex was participating in a talent show here with a music
arranemgnet she had composed with friends (this was before I started
going out with her). The other time, even further back, was back in
High School, when I was in band– I was newly promoted as the First
Chair for the percussionists in my high school band, and it was at
Loyola’s Oscar Peterson hall that I first managed the percussion team–
we took home a gold, and I got compliments from the band director
because I managed to improvise repairs on equipment that was badly
damaged (read: sabotage by previous competitors– the music world is a
highly cut throat industry, even for high schoolers it seemed) with
nothing but a pair of drumsticks, duct tape, a Gerber ‘multi-pliers’
and a hammer.
At the time of that competition I remember thinking, “What the fuck is
with this Loyla Campus place? This is a university? There’s no godddam
place to eat!” So my bandmates and I used a wide spread forager/hunter
formation, covered as much ground as we could in search of affordable
food (note that Loyla Campus food wasn’t, and still isn’t, affordable,
which i find is just lame).
And thus begins the tale of George’s Souvlaki.
This place looks exactly the same way that it did back like … wow, has it already been almost ten years?
The the place has got that blue and white motif going, and the walls
are randomly host to the fadded newspaper clippings with pictures of
the smiling owners, doing what they do best. There’s a profile
portrait of someone of the wall in oil, and I don’t know who it is, but
he must be someone that this place loved.
I look at places like this and it gives me, in a very simple yet
profound way, a tang of inspiration. I want to start my own business
some day… Sure, I own the racket store right now and the club. But i
mean, something official, something real. I want a peice of land to
myself and my family, something I can pass on to my kids when I finally
get around to having them. The thing that’s always turned me off is
that when you spend so much time downtown, you realize that nothing is
forever– if you close down, someone will replace you, someone will
goble up every bit of every trace that you ever stood there.
I remember when I was young and my dad used to work at Eatons– I loved
going to Eatons downtown. I could spend the afternoon with Al, who
worked in the piano department– that was before my parents surprised
my sister and I one day with a piano of our own. It was expensive. I
don’t remember how expensive– and if I asked my parents now, they’d
never tell me how expensive. When I got older I’d be in the toy
department– which, back in the day at Eatons, was the entire floor.
There was a mini Lego department, there were those stands where you
could try out the all new Tetris that came with the all new Game Boy.
But all that remains of Eatons now are it’s hollowed out innards– gone
are the employees who worked their departments like their family
businesses, and who knew everything– just by how much the note of a
piano was off, or who could guess your measurements just by looking at
you over a pair of steel rimmed glasses.
Gone is all that– replaced by more clothing stores, more electronics
boutiques– the same old franchises, just with different jockeys riding
cash and shotgun as the predator who greets you with the fake smile,
judging from the way you dress just how likely you are to spend your
But then I see Souvlaki George.
Some simple things do endure.
My master plan is, to someday, after I’ve gotten somehow tired of
bouncing around the globe teaching english (or just making a general
nuissance of myself) is to open up a gym maybe. I want to open
something where people can sit down, and I can get to know them, and
they can get to know me.
For what is life but for connections? What is business but a tool by which people interact?
There’s got to be more to it than the uniforms, the name tags, the
income tax and next week’s shipment. Many businesses have lost the
touch of artistry that the original owners or creators had in mind.
It can be done differently.