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Mocha House opens in Youngstown

021120...R MOCHA 1...Youngstown...02-11-20...The new Mocha House in downtown Youngstown...From left: Bill Axiotis, Christa Liakaris, Kalli Georgalos, and Nick Georgalos...by R. Michael Semple

YOUNGSTOWN — On a recent Tuesday morning at the Mocha House in downtown Youngstown there was a certain something inside the cafe and eatery — call it zeal, call it vigor, call it vibrant; there was a definite feel to it.

It was still 90 minutes or so outside of the lunchtime rush, but a good many of the seats were full; word of the new restaurant continues to spread since its soft opening Jan. 20.

A grand opening could still be in the works.

“It’s been crazy since we opened,” said one of the co-owners, Bill Axiotis. “People are coming in so the idea was it worked for us in Warren, so we’re going to go with that approach to make sure everyone who comes through the door is taken care of … we go with the philosophy to take care of as many people as you can that come through the door.”

It’s the third location for Mocha House. The first restaurant in downtown Warren on High Street NE opened in 1992 and the second, in Boardman on Tiffany Boulevard, opened in 1999.

“At first there was a concern, are we going to cut into each other, (but) it’s almost increased business at all of the locations,” Axiotis said. “There was a concern that would we be oversaturating? No it wasn’t.”

The downtown Youngstown location at 120 E. Boardman St. is in the same building at Eastern Gateway Community College. The space, previously Los Gallos and before that, Cafe Cimmento, underwent a total remodel to transform it into The Mocha House.

Walls were removed and the ceiling was raised to open up the space as part of the $400,000 to $500,000 investment that also included new equipment, furnishings and fixtures.

It employs 25 to 30 full- and part-time workers.

Business “has been better than we anticipated,” Axiotis said. “I’d say week one, we got hit at lunchtime, week two it’s brisk … I’d say around noon we’ll get hit again. It’s starting to become like Warren and Boardman where we’re busy throughout the day.”

“I think what separates us, really, everything that I have been hearing (is) ‘your staff is so friendly’…. we really have genuine concern for people to enjoy their experience here,” Axiotis said. “I think it shows to people, it shows at all three locations. I think Youngstown is seeing what we have done in Warren and Boardman and now, they are getting a feel of it. The response we have got has been overwhelming.”

Axiotis and his wife, Kitsa, Nick and Christa Liakaris and Maria and Will Morris co-own the Warren and Youngstown stores. New co-owners at the Youngstown store are Nick and Irene Georgalos and their daughter, Kalli, who grew up as a teen working at the Warren location.

Jim Paxos operates the Boardman restaurant through a licensing agreement. He’s run that store since 2005.

The hours at the Youngstown location are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The menu contains breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a wide assortment of coffee and tea, and baked goods, which are supplied by the bakery at the Warren location.

Kalli Georgalos is part of the opening crew, arriving most days at 6 a.m. She started as a server at the Warren restaurant at 16 and after graduation from Howland High School, graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in business administration and management.

“When I was in school, I always had this vision of someday owning or running some kind of entity like this,” Georgalos, 24, said. “It just so happened to be this is the one I was meant to run.”

She started learning the management side of the business in Warren in 2018. Now, it’s about sustaining the business and building a loyal customer base.

“I feel, the first month it has been now, I feel that many people who have walked through these doors and exited these doors have come happy and left happy, and I want to maintain that,” she said.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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