Though it was three o’clock in the afternoon, almost everyone in the place had a short stack of pancakes in front of them and was heartily enjoying it.
Of course, that’s the attraction of founded in Orange that serves all types of flapjacks all day. Now, Fairfielders are enjoying the fare that has served the business well since its inception in 1966.
Standing at the entry to his new location Friday, at 525 Tunxis Hill Cutoff, owner George Chatzopoulos spoke about the history of the restaurant and its mission. “I have owned the Orange restaurant for the past nine years,” he said. “My goal is to franchise them. We had a soft opening here three weeks ago. This is a family place. We work as a team, and I train my staff to satisfy customers’ needs. Pancakes are most popular, though we do serve lunch and dinner, too.”
Gathered in the sunny, 4,600-square-foot, street-side location for the Grand Opening were more than 100 people, including First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Selectman James Walsh, Chamber of Commerce President Patricia Ritchie, Fairfield police officers, State Representative Tony Hwang, Town Clerk Betsy Browne, property owner Paul Lenoci and many friends and local residents. Of course, there were also the Chip’s waitresses, about a dozen of them, all looking radiant and dressed in colorful “I Love Chip’s” t-shirts.
Fairfield Police Officer Jay Valle, known more commonly as “Officer Friendly” and who had parked his D.A.R.E. car out front, was especially glad to be on hand, given his role in supporting the opening. He not only contributed the ten color photographs that adorn the walls of the restaurant, but he shot the photos himself. All depict scenes from around Fairfield.
“I was an art director for an ad agency before becoming an officer, responsible for photos for ads,” Valle said. “It has remained a hobby. I’m just starting to show them; in fact, I had a one-man show at the Walsh Gallery at Fairfield University just recently. When this restaurant was being designed, I wandered in and asked about the décor. They wanted photos of Fairfield, I offered mine, they said fine. It gives me an opportunity to show my work.” (Each print is for sale for $125)
Keeping watch over operations, General Manager Adam Kindilien said, “Restaurant work is all I’ve ever done, and Chip’s is a dream find for a career restaurant person. Goerge has the exact formula for how to be successful in the business. He spent the last decade at the Orange restaurant, every day. He’s not an absentee owner, and is always making improvements. He has a genuine interest in his customers. I’m lucky to be a recipient of the success he’s already had. The challenge is to maintain it.”
Formally addressing the gathering, Glen McDermott, Creative Director at Red Rock, a brand building agency and a consultant for Chip’s, echoed and expanded upon Kindilien’s comments. “George has a special approach to the restaurant business,” he said. “He has a unique way of integrating food and community, family and business, knitting a social fabric.”
Piling on more accolades, like pads of butter on a short stack, Steve Glick, of Chamber Insurance Trust (CIT), which maintains an office next door to Chip’s in Orange, said, “You have to have guts and vision. I’ve seen George take challenges. When others go left, they go right. He gives back to the community. Providers of services in Orange go there, and they don’t go anywhere else. I’m also proud to say that there’s a sandwich here called the CIT – I make 10% on every sale That Mercedes out there is because of him. He’s a real true entrepreneurial story.”
And if Glick’s words weren’t enough to convince the group of Chatzopoulos’ upstanding nature, Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli stepped up to add, “Chip’s is a great community supporter – it’s how they’ve built their business. George and Dina (Bajko, George’s sister) do an outstanding job. Good luck in Fairfield!”
Chip’s Restaurant, at 525 Tunxis Hill Cutoff, Fairfield, is open seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For more information, call 203-332-3370 or visit www.chipsrestaurants.com