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Chip’s Family Restaurant

When George Chatzopolous took over Chip’s Family Restaurant in 2003, he diversified the menu and expanded to five new locations throughout New England. We talked to Chatzopolous about what makes the business thrive.

How would you describe Chip’s in just a few words?

Chip’s is a family restaurant that serves breakfast all day, as well as lunch and dinner. We specialize in pancakes and omelets.

What’s the history of Chip’s? The first restaurant has been around for decades, right?

The first location in Orange, Connecticut, has been there since 1966. I took over Chip’s in 2003, with my sister and my mother and father. We put a lot of effort into remodeling the restaurant. We also went out in the community quite a bit. We made sure to serve good food and paid attention to the details. We started to get a lot of requests from customers to open another place. People were driving 45 minutes on weekends to eat breakfast at Chip’s, from 8:30 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.

What changed when you took over the business?

We kept the name. We kept the pancakes, which were the No. 1 seller at the original location. But little by little, we’ve added items to the menu. We see how customers react to new things. Over the years, we’ve tried out new specials. If people like it—if people ask for it—six months later we’ll put it on the menu. We get the employees involved with the menu changes, too, which is fun. We have a great team in the kitchen and give our employees opportunities to put their own specials on the menu. They can invent their own omelets and sell them to the customers. People love that.

What are some more of your signature dishes on your menu?

We are very well-known for our pancakes. We offer a range of our own creations, from German Apple to The Choc-a-holic, or diners can build their own. First, they choose between buttermilk or whole wheat batter, and then they can add their choice of additions, including nuts, different chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, and sliced fresh fruit. In addition to the breakfast menu, people come in for our hamburgers. Our salads are also very popular. We use quality ingredients, first and foremost. Everything on the menu is made with the best products. The guys at Sysco help us a lot with that; they have a good team over here.

How does Sysco help with your menus?

Every year, Sysco helps us run reports; we go through what we sell, what we don’t sell, and evaluate how we can do better. They also help us come up with great ideas for new menu items. It might be something we can run as a special, or just something we can add to the menu as a regular item.

How else has Sysco been a partner in your success?

The team at Sysco Connecticut, they aren’t just delivering food. I consult with them on everything, including how I run the business. If I need any help with marketing, with menu changes—you name it—Sysco is there to help. It’s been a very good partner.

What are your future plans?

We are always looking for new opportunities for growth. We have just opened up a high-end Greek restaurant called Balos Estiatorio, in West Hartford, Connecticut, so we are very busy with that right now. In the next couple years, we are definitely planning to continue to grow Chip’s Family Restaurant as well.