Peter Smith’s job is to keep everything running smooth at Deluxe Hamburgers on Regent St. He seems to always be either behind the grill or chatting with customers.
He is married to Marsha, the daughter of the original owner of the restaurant. At the age of 21, he fell in love with Marsha and joined the Deluxe Hamburger Restaurants family.
“The movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it’s not far from the truth here,” jokes Marsha.
Deluxe is celebrating 50 years in business this year. Peter and Marsha Smith along with her father, Tim Zografopoulos, her mother, Marie, her brother Bill, and their three children, continue serving their long-time and new customers the food they love. And Sudbury is glad they do. Deluxe is uniquely ours.
This family business got started in 1959 when Tim Zografopoulos came from Greece to Canada to marry his fiancée. Marie, who came from his hometown in northern Greece, was working at Lolas’ Confectionary and Lunch Counter in Copper Cliff with her sister and brother-in-law Sam Lolas.
Zografopoulos worked with Lolas for seven years to build the first Deluxe Drive-in restaurant on Notre Dame Ave. By 1971, there were four restaurants, three in Sudbury and one in North Bay.
Zografopoulos ran the Regent St. location and had began the process of taking full ownership in 1971 when his brother-in-law died.
He wasn’t so sure he wanted to keep running the restaurant alone, but as the closing day came around, he asked himself, “What will I do tomorrow?”
He had invested so much of himself and his family into the business, he just couldn’t leave. So he asked his brother Tony, who was living in Australia, to help him. Tony and Tim worked alongside each other for 32 years.
Not much has changed over five decades and this is most likely the reason for the restaurant’s success.
“We have very loyal customers,” says Smith. “Some customers come every day. We know their entire family because they have been eating with us generation after generation.”
On busy days they can serve as many 100 meals in 15 minutes. There are hundreds of stories about family, fun and food.
“We pack and send food all over,” says Smith. “Once someone picked up a family pack of fries to fly back to Calgary. We have had bridal parties come through the drive-thru in their limos….or they have ordered their favourite food for the late night buffet.”
There is even a Facebook page for fans to share their love of Deluxe food and memories.
“We, the three generations of my family, are here because of the generations of other families that come here to eat, and for that we are very appreciative,” says Smith.