The descendants of George and Demetra Apostolou comprise one of the largest Greek families in the Seattle, Washington, area. The story begins with Konstantinos “Dino,” one of the eight Apostolou children who all came to Seattle between 1962 and 1971. Since that time, the Apostolou family has remained active in the restaurant business and property management. All business has been handled with a handshake and trust among its members. The family name Apostolou would logically come from the word apostle but, according to Dino, has no other historical meaning.
Konstantinos “Dino” George Apostolou was born in Valaora, a village northeast of Agrinion, Greece, on October 13, 1948. His father, George, was born in 1911 and his mother, Demetra (nee Tzereme), in 1916. They did not see each other before their wedding. George and Demetra had eight children: Demosthenis “Demo” (1937-2002), Evanthia Skepetaris (1940), Serafim “Fuller” (1942), Elias “Louie” (1945), Konstantinos “Dino” (1948), Penelope “Poppee” Barbachan (1950), Theodora “Dora” Christofilis, (1953) and Gregory (Archimandrite Cheroubim) (1959). When Dino was born, Greece was still suffering from the civil war where he remembers “everybody fighting.” Most of the village was destroyed by fire but the Apostolou family fared better than most. Dino remembers his father trying to get enough food for the family to eat.
Most of the family left the village and moved to the small beach town of Serviginia where George opened a tavern with his brother, John. In 1955 Uncle John Apostolou immigrated to Virginia and brought the oldest Apostolou son, Demo, to Virginia. Demo found his way to Seattle, Washington, during the Century 21 Exposition, Seattle’s World’s Fair, in 1962. Between 1962 and 1969 Demo brought his father and the next two oldest brothers, Serafim and Louie. Dino and the others remained in Greece with their mother. Evanthia married Jim Skepetaris and along with the other Apostolous, moved to Athens in 1962. Demetra was never able to see her children all together again. Unfortunately, just 10 days before they were scheduled to leave for the United States, she died at the age of 55 in 1971.
As the oldest of the children left in Greece and with the responsibility for their care, Dino was barely able to find time to finish elementary school. As a young man, he built and opened a kafeneo (coffee shop) in the village. When his father returned to Greece, Dino began working on the construction of a hydroelectric dam near Agrinio where several workers were killed in accidents. Out of fear for his safety, his family made him leave the job. Dino obtained some experience as an electrician along with his brother Louie. He also worked for several months in a factory cutting and preparing stone for construction projects. This job took him between Athens and the island of Evia on a three-wheel delivery van.
In 1968 Dino entered the Greek army where he spent the next 24 months operating heavy equipment. His term of service was extended during the Greek military coup and problems in Cyprus. For a while, he was assigned to protect politicians in the parliament building.
Following his military service Dino worked as a bus driver until his paper work was completed for his trip to the United States in 1971. United with his family in Seattle, he first worked as a night dishwasher at The Joker Restaurant on Eighth and Westlake, (originally owned by brother Demo, managed by brother Louie, then later sold to brother Serafim and brother-in-law Jim Skepetaris). During the day Dino worked at Doces Furniture Company stripping and restoring furniture. His boss was another Greek, Chris Chriest. Dino also met John Limantzakis who managed the Edgewater Hotel. Dino and his brother Serafim, along with a Danish upholsterer, secured the job of refurnishing the rooms at the Edgewater. During that time they worked out of a space on Stone Way which they called S & D Upholstery.
As a young Greek bachelor, Dino spent his nights at Tops 24 on Ninth and Madison owned by his brother Demo, George Serpanos and Alex Gotsis. George Serpanos and his sister Erene had been in Seattle for some time and Dino knew that their other sister Kostoula was coming from Greece to Seattle. The first night he saw Kostoula he knew she was the one for him. Kostoula was attending school at the time and avoided Dino’s advances. None the less, their relationship developed over a course of a few months and they eventually married on December 28, 1975. Dino and Kostoula have two children: George born in 1976 and Demetra born in 1978. There are four grandchildren: Melina, Kosta, Zoey & Luc who fill the home with love and activity.
Dino’s next business venture with his brothers was The Omelette House Restaurant on Phinney Avenue North. In 1979 Dino sold his interest to his brothers and opened his own restaurant in the Rainer Valley neighborhood. Another restaurant opportunity arose when he later partnered with Taki Skepetaris to operate the Lemieux restaurant on First Avenue South and Lander Street. That restaurant is currently owned by Demetrios Moraitis and is now the Philoxenia.
From 1990 to 1994 Dino worked as a taxi driver often picking up fares at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle. His brothers did not always approve of his taxi job. During the same time period Dino was involved with building the Olympia Pizza and Spaghetti Houses in Queen Anne and Magnolia (the latter currently known as Luigi’s and owned by Kostoula’s brother Christopher Serpanos) as well as his koumbaro (best man) Andreas Michelakis’ Olympic Pizza & Pasta in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle. When he left the taxi business, Dino found a property on a corner near his home in North Seattle. With his brother Demo’s help, he was able to purchase the property. With a small down payment and his own plumbing and electrical work, the location became Santorini Pizza & Pasta in 1994. Dino owned Santorini for the better part of 20 years.
Since selling the restaurant, Dino has been able to devote almost full time to his real passion, training and breeding race horses. His obsession with horse racing began in 1975 when he started attending horse races at the old Longacres Racetrack south of Seattle. While operating his restaurant in Rainier Valley he purchased a horse with several other Greeks. By 1986 he had observed the horse trainers and decided that was what he wanted to do. That year he bought another horse, Noble Sugar, who did very well. While it was difficult to get started in the business, he kept at it. “It was hard to get in the track in those days,” he said. “You had to have background and know people. But I managed to get in.” Over the years he has owned or trained over 100 horses and compares his avocation with that of being a football coach. His passion for horses remains as he currently has horses at the Emerald Downs Thoroughbred Race Track. Photos on the walls and in loose leaf binders are abundant in Dino’s office.
For Dino, it was 15 years before he returned to Greece to visit his cousins. He found life in America much better than his early years in Greece. He fondly remembers his mother who gave birth to and cared for her eight children under very difficult conditions. He has no regrets about coming to Washington State and he’s extremely grateful for the personal and professional knowledge, guidance and inspiration he received from his brother Demo. Dino sees himself as a hard worker, born with energy, a characteristic of the entire Apostolou family. He has taught his children that success comes from hard work and to always follow the Golden Rule: treat others as you would choose to be treated.
By John and Joann Nicon, May 2016PHOTOS
1. Dino Apostolou, 2015
2. Demetra and George Apostolou, circa 1968
3. Demo and his father George, 1960s
4. Dino in the army, 1968
5. George Soukas, Andreas Michelakis, Dino, 1980s
6. Kostoula and Dino wedding, 1975
7. George, Demetra and Kostoula, 1980s
8. Dino at the track, 2011
9. Apostolou family (l-r) Rear: Fuller, Demetra Xenos, Evanthia (Skepetaris), Stella, Demo, Archimandrite Cheroubim, Poppee (Barbachan), George, Vicki (Kades), Eva, Kostoula, Demetra, Dino; Front: Dora (Christofilis), Margo Christofilis, Louie, Demetra (Mitalas), Judy (Varlamos), Maria (Halverson), circa 2000
10. Dino Apostolou family (l-r) Rear: Kostoula, Dina, George, Demetra (Manaois), Luc, Collin Manaois; Front: Kosta, Melina, Zoey, 2014
11. Kostoula and Dino, 2015
Photos 1 and 11 by John Nicon; 8 courtesy Auburn Reporter, April 11, 2001; all others from Apostolou family collection SOURCES
Video interview by John and Joann Nicon, May 2015; Auburn Reporter, April 11, 2001