Their restaurant was originally called Patty’s Eggnest but renamed Pete’s Eggnest when Voula and Pete Sideris bought it. Having served generations of customers with their warm hospitality, it has been affectionately called Pete’s Love Nest.
Panagiotis (Pete) Georgiou Sideris was born on May 6, 1943, to George and Konstandina (nee Pallas) Sideris in the village of Vouzi just northeast of Domoko near Lamia in central Greece. While the origin of the family name is not known, the Greek word siderenios means iron, indicating that an ancestor worked with iron or perhaps was particularly strong. At the age of 13 Pete moved to Domoko and then to Lamia where he finished high school after which he spent two years in the Greek Army. After his military obligation, he was working in a dairy as a bookkeeper. Trucks from the dairy would collect milk from small farmers in the area surrounding Lamia and bring it to the dairy where cheeses, buttermilk and other dairy products were produced. It was there that he met Voula Dalapi.
Paraskevi “Voula” was born in Volos, Greece, on September 28, 1951, to Vasilios and Martha Dalipis. Her parents had moved from Karpenisi and lived in a nice home above a store. Vasili was a successful businessman, even called an Americano (American) because of his wealth. In 1957 an earthquake destroyed the home and Vasili was forced to move to Athens with his family. Life following the earthquake was very difficult for the Dalipis family.
In 1967 Vasilios traveled to Seattle, Washington, as a tourist and was working at the Greek Village for Pete Farmasonis (see A GREEK VILLAGE FOR TWO). Once he was established, he applied to have Martha, Voula and her younger sister Roula come to join him in 1969. Voula’s older sister Diamando had married and remained in Greece. Voula spoke no English and attended school for three months to learn the language. She remembers laughing with her sister Roula and Jim Skepetaris so that the teacher had to separate them in the classroom. During that time she was also working for Angelo Saris at his restaurant on Fifth and Pine Street in Seattle.
In 1970 Vasilios sent Voula back to Greece to spend time with her sister in Athens hoping she would find a husband. With only two weeks left on her visit, she went to Lamia to spend time with her theas (aunts). On an evening volta (stroll) she encountered Niko, a friend of Pete’s, who asked if she wanted to get married and, if so, to come to the dairy to meet Pete. As a signal to her aunts, if she liked what she saw, she would rotate the bracelet on her wrist. When she saw Pete, she quickly turned the bracelet as she liked him from the beginning. The couple traveled to Athens on a Wednesday where he asked her sister for Voula’s hand. They planned to be married on the following Sunday. Tragically, Pete’s brother Vasili was killed in an accident and their marriage plans were delayed until after the saranda (40-day mourning period). A small family wedding took place on November 12, 1970, and Voula returned to Seattle by herself one week later.
In Athens, Pete completed his application for permanent residency in the United States and left for Seattle in February of 1971. He flew from Athens, to Milan, Italy, to London, England, and to Los Angeles, California, finally arriving in Seattle. His flight from Los Angeles to Seattle was shorter than he expected and Pete, speaking no English, remained on the plane until all the passengers had departed, thinking there could be another stop along the way. Voula thought he had missed the plane or passed her by but finally recognized him as he hesitantly came through the arrival gate.
Initially, Pete and Voula lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment with her parents and younger sister Roula. With the support of Steve Gerovasilis who managed the Marine Room at the Olympic Hotel (now Fairmont Olympic) Pete began working the night shift. Once he began making a little money, they moved into their own apartment nearby. Voula was back at her job at Angelo’s. One rainy and windy night as Pete was walking home, he was confronted by a very large man who demanded money. Still speaking no English, Pete held out his hand with the little cash he had and was greatly relieved when the man took some small change for a telephone call.
Pete and Voula joined her father to operate the Acropolis Café in north Seattle, a venture that lasted only a year and a half as there was insufficient income for two families. So, Pete and Voula opened their own restaurant, Ray’s Café on Broadway and James Street, which was their first taste of real success in the restaurant business. Within two years they earned enough money to buy a new car and a home. Their first child, Vasili, (named after both Pete’s deceased brother and Voula’s father) arrived on November 21, 1973. A second son, George, followed on August 29, 1978.
In 1979, with income from selling both Ray’s Café and their home at a considerable profit, the Siderises decided to return to Greece. With the proceeds, Pete purchased a taxi which he operated very successfully for the next 17 years. Interest rates on bank deposits in Greece were high at the time and Voula was very prudent. When it was necessary to purchase a new vehicle, Voula surprised Pete by having saved enough money to buy the vehicle outright.
A third son, Kosta, was born in Greece on February 2, 1981. A favorite saying of Voula’s is exho matia apopiso (I have eyes in the back of my head) which she used frequently in raising three sons. When their son Vasili finished high school in 1992, he announced that he was going back to his home country where he could live in Seattle with his grandmother, Martha, and attend college. Then, when the family visited Seattle the next year, George announced his desire to stay in the United States. Despite his parent’s protestations, George joined his older brother and grandmother. So, with two sons and an aging mother in Seattle, Pete sold the taxi business and moved back to Seattle with Voula and Kosta.
Pete was good friends with Dino Apostolou as they came to Seattle at the same time in 1971. Dino said “I have a nice restaurant for you” and they purchased Patty’s Eggnest in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. On October 1, 1995, with a name change, they began operating Pete’s Eggnest, their business to this day. The first two years of operation were very difficult until a professional chef from Greece was hired. With a new menu and improved meal presentation, business doubled and tripled in the ensuing years. Pete’s Eggnest is open from 7am to 2pm serving breakfast and lunch. Pete handles the business and Voula serves the customers along with their son Kosta and a young woman who has been like a daughter to them for 14 years. Pete and Voula enjoy a close relationship with their three cooks and a dishwasher, who are more like family than employees. They have no worries about any restaurant competitors and simply focus on serving good food. Over the years they have seen young couples courting, aging and bringing their children to the restaurant. The walls are covered with photos of their customers. With the love, humor and attention Pete and Voula show to their customers, the place has been referred to as Pete’s Love Nest.
The Sideris family has been able to live comfortably with their income from the restaurant and know that they can live and die “like a king” compared to the life they would be living in Greece. Being raised and educated in Greece their sons retain much of their heritage and culture. George, Vasili and Kosta have been active in the Greek community and the Sideris grandchildren regularly attend Greek school and participate in Greek dance classes at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Seattle. Pete and Voula look forward to many more years of happiness as they serve good food and provide infectious hospitality for their customers at Pete’s Love Nest.By John and Joann Nicon, August 4, 2015 PHOTOS
1 Pete and Voula Sideris, 2014
2 Konstandina Sideris, 1999
3 Sisters Diamando, Voula, Roula, 1974
4 Pete and Voula wedding, 1970
5 Greek-American soccer team: (l-r) front: George Sideris, Panos Theodorou, Niko Pamboukas, Mike Xenos, Niko Avlonitis, Niko Mitalas, Vasili Sideris, Niko E. Pamboukas, Stephanos Kazakos; rear: George Lazarou, Pete Lazarou, Dimitri Marinakis, Jason Xydis, Dimitri Roubanis, John Stantinos, Dimitri Georgakopoulos, Andreas Savronakis, Tom Skepetaris, John Bekris, Coach Theodoros (Laki) Kazakos, 1990s
6 Sideris brothers: (l-r) George, Vasili, Kosta, 2005
7 Sideris family: (l-r) Vasili, Elisabeth, Pete, Sharon, Pano, Voula Vlahos, 2014
8 Pete and Voula at Pete’s Eggnest, 2014
Photos 1 and 8 by John Nicon; all others from Sideris family collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, July 2014