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A Shared History

A Shared History

  • Photos by Chris Padgett
  • This story originally appeared in the December 2023 food and drink issue of COMO Magazine.
Steak Fries and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
G&D Steakhouse Crew
Collaboration at G&D Steakhouse
Dining area at G&D Steakhouse
G&D Steakhouse at the meat slicer +18
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G&D Steakhouse Crew

G&D Steakhouse and G&D Pizzaria are woven into Columbia’s history.

More than fifty-five years after it all began, the G&D name is deeply woven into the fabric of Columbia.

In 1968, George Terzopoulos and his friend, Dino, opened G&D Steakhouse, an 80-seat restaurant on North Ninth Street. The following year, a second, larger location opened on South Ninth Street with the capacity to serve nearly 200 guests. The original location moved from North Ninth Street to 2001 W. Worley St. in 1970, where it still serves loyal old-timers and first-time guests every day. 

“When I was a kid working here, I would see people coming in with their parents, and as they’d get older, they would bring their kids in,” says Michael Aslanidis, who co-owns G&D Steakhouse with his father, Angelo Aslanidis. “The next thing you know, they’d have grandkids coming in with them.” 

While he says he didn’t appreciate the sense of community and the strength of the relationships formed around the tables of the restaurant in his younger years, Michael Aslanidis says that as he’s gotten older and taken on more leadership within the restaurant, he’s learned to appreciate the role G&D Steakhouse plays in the community. 

“We have been building relationships with our guests and their families for over fifty years,” Michael Aslanidis says. “It’s kind of the go-to spot for a lot of families. We’ve grown to be friends with the community.” 

All in the Family 

In 1973, Michael Aslanidis’s grandfather, Gus Aslanidis, bought out Dino’s interests in the restaurants and became partners with George Terzopoulos, his brother-in-law. 

“We came from Greece in 1966 and we didn’t know the culture, the language, or anything,”  says Angelo Aslanidis, Guss’ son and Michael’s father. “My Uncle George helped us out, and gave us jobs.” 

Because Angelo’s wife, Elly, also worked at the restaurant, their two sons grew up in the business. 

“It was challenging,” Angelo Aslanidis says. “We didn’t want to give our sons to babysitters, so five out of seven days we used to bring them with us.” 

Michael Aslanidis says he has fond memories of the time spent in the restaurant. At 5 p.m., when Elly went to work, Michael Aslanidis and his brother went, too. 

“We always came with her until we were 15 or 16,” Michael Aslanidis says. “We always had to sit in the last booth and face the wall and do our homework. If it got busy, we had to go help out, bus tables, do this or that, cut the potatoes, whatever we had to do.” 

Through high school, Michael Aslanidis says he worked thirty hours a week at the restaurant, alongside other members of his family.

Though only one G&D Steakhouse remains today, at one time, there were several locations around Columbia, along with locations in Rolla, Mexico, Kirksville, and Jefferson City. Michael Aslanidis says they operated in a way that resembled a franchise. 

“Greek families would come over and run them for a couple years before buying them,” Michael Aslanidis says. “There were probably six to eight locations altogether.” 

Something for Everyone

Today, G&D’s original menu hangs on the wall, adding a historical element to its modern-day operations. While the original menu had just four items, today’s menu includes fifty to sixty items, ranging from steaks, Greek salads, and spaghetti to chicken strips and sandwiches. 

“It’s a good old family-oriented place where you can go out and everyone can pick something different to eat at one place,” Michael Aslanidis says. “There’s a little bit of everything.” 

Michael Aslanidis says that quality has always been a focus, and it’s something the family has never compromised. 

“Even through COVID, we never went down on our quality of food,” Michael Aslanidis says. “We always use choice steaks, sometimes even prime when it was close in price.” 

In addition to a consistent quality of food, Michael Aslanidis says G&D Steakhouse has also benefited from the loyalty of key employees. One employee has been with the restaurant for twenty-five years, while another has worked twenty years. 

Even Michael Aslanidis’s wife Kalene has a long history at G&D Steakhouse. 

“She used to come in with her folks and family; they were some of those regulars,” Michael Aslanidis says. “She started working when she was 15, we started dating when she was 20, and we’ve been together ever since.” 

Outlasting the Competition 

When G&D Steakhouse first moved to its Worley Street location, Angelo Aslanidis says it was on the outskirts of town. The piece of land that is now Columbia Mall was vacant, occupied only by the horses that grazed there.

While many restaurants have opened in the surrounding area, Michael Aslanidis says that G&D Steakhouse is the only one that has stood the test of time. 

“I remember when Texas Roadhouse was opening, and my father said that as long as we keep serving good food, people will keep coming back, and he was right,” Michael Aslanidis says. “Several things have come and gone around us, but we are the only ones left who are original to this shopping center.”  

G&D Pizzaria

In 1977, G&D Pizzaria, also owned by George Terzopoulos, opened on Ninth Street before moving to its current location on West Broadway. Just like G&D Steakhouse, G&D Pizzaria is still serving longtime customers, and thriving.

G&D Pizzaria is “about as family of a place as you can get,” says Matt Kertz, who now co-owns the restaurant with Alex, Pano and Leo Terzopoulos, and Rob Dolliver. 

“There are generations of ownership, generations of families,” Kertz says. “It’s kind of like an episode of ‘Cheers.’ You come in and everyone knows everyone’s names.” 

Kertz says that being in a college town brings a certain flair to the restaurant and affords the employees an added perk — watching families grow. 

“You get to watch generations go through the university and then come back to enjoy the same places they enjoyed in college during homecoming weekend and other events,” Kertz says. “You get to watch their families grow up from a distance, and it’s very fulfilling in a way.” 

Old Favorites

According to Kertz, G&D Pizzaria’s menu, which includes everything from pizza, steak, and burgers to salads, sandwiches, and Greek specialties, has changed slightly throughout the years as new items have been added and other items have been removed. There are a few items that keep customers coming back time and time again. 

“One of the most popular items is our country music pizza, which is the meat lovers special, and a feta no sauce pizza,” Kertz says. “The salata horiatiki has imported feta and house-made Greek dressing that is unique to this restaurant and G&D Steakhouse. You don’t really find it too many other places.” 

A Changing Industry

Kertz says G&D Pizzaria’s ownership is especially grateful to the community for ensuring that they weathered the storm of the COVID years. 

“Nothing has been the same for hospitality since COVID,” Kertz says. “We have forty-four years of rapport with Columbia natives, and they came out and helped us keep the doors open and the lights on. They helped us navigate the times and make it out the other side, so we want to make sure we are serving good food to happy customers.” 

While G&D Pizzaria also has longtime employees, both Kertz and Michael Aslanidis agree that the restaurant business is demanding — and a true labor of love. 

“The hours are long, you’re here all day, on your feet,” Michael Aslanidis says. “It’s tough nowadays, and the biggest thing is finding people to work.” 

Despite the long hours, Michael Aslanidis says he finds joy in continuing the legacy that his grandfather and George Terzopoulos created. 

“It’s kind of cool being the original one, and still being here,” he says.  

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