Florio Vassilakakis

Coming from a family with a 50-year history in the restaurant business, Florio Vassilakakis seems destined to follow along

by Tanya Laing Gahr
Photo of Florio Vassilakakis

— Douglas Noblet photo

The secret to success is keeping things fresh, not being afraid to take risks and knowing what the customer wants—before they’ve asked.

Coming from a family with a 50-year history in the restaurant business, Florio Vassilakakis seems to have been destined to follow along. While he did major in biology at university, his heart was with the family business. Most of their restaurants were established in the Okanagan, but they decided to take a risk and establish the Element Club Bar & Grill in 2006.

“We didn’t think small—we thought big,” said Vassilakakis. “We built a 600-seat nightclub in the middle of Castlegar, which, at the time, if you exclude the Commodore in Vancouver, was the second- or third-largest nightclub in the province.”

While others had questions about the viability of a business that size, Vassilakakis—along with his brother George—was sure of their success. The menu is changed frequently to always keep it new. But Vassilakakis has no intention of following trends to keep things fresh—he’s more interested in starting them.

“When you come into a market, you need to lead and show people what you want your business to be,” he said. “You need to listen to the customer—that’s the most important thing—but you can’t be afraid to push the envelope.”

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