The Kaloidis Family

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The Family Story by Adrienne Brown

Answering the question most non-Greeks hold on the tip of their tongues and don’t want to be bold enough to ask, Vasilios Kaloidis confirms what we all want to be true, “Yes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding draws a pretty accurate portrayal of Greek families except for the part about the Windex being a cure-all. In our family, it was olive oil.” Vasi’s parents came from Sparta, Greece where they met as kids and fell in love. As a poor man in 1968, Vasi’s father, Athanasios “Athan” V. Kaloidis, left Greece and the love of his life, Vasi’s mom, Demetra “Toula” Stratakis for America and his pursuit of the American dream vowing to wait for her.

It took a long four years, but Toula made her way to America to be reunited with Athan and marry. A year later, Vasi arrived and the small family lived in Waterbury for another year before settling in Middlebury. Vasi’s parents are none other than the owners of the iconic Waterbury gathering place, Spartan Restaurant.

Vasilios A. Kaloidis (Vasi) cherishes his upbringing, which he claims was set in a very typical Greek home. The love of food came from his grandmother, Falia, who remains, and Vasi emphatically defends, the best cook around. He enjoyed sports and working out. He remains a fan of most of the teams New York has to offer: Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, and Giants. Many of his most treasured childhood memories were between the ages of four and eighteen when Vasi and his brother, John (You know he has a more interesting Greek name somewhere.) of The Kaloidis Law Firm, would spend three months each summer in Greece with their grandparents. After turning eighteen, the trips happened every other year until Vasi saw the age of thirty. Since thirty, Greece has welcomed Vasi back another handful of times. The villages continue to beckon Vasi back, and he happily takes their call.

Lauren Coddington Kaloidis grew up in Naugatuck with her mom, Kelly, and sister, Judy. She grew up feeling close to and well loved by her family in the midst of what she calls, “Strong female role models,” with her mother, grandmother, and aunts. She was an artistic, volleyball playing teen at Naugatuck High School before graduating from Post University with a degree in business administration but comfortably fell into the rhythm of restaurant work until recently. Ironically, Lauren and Vasi’s lives circled one another from the time Lauren was a baby and Vasi was a teen. Lauren’s dad, a good friend of Vasi’s dad, along with her aunt, Dana Bruton, worked at a Woodbury restaurant frequented by the Kaloidis family on Sundays. The blonde toddler sitting angelically at a table constructively occupying herself while waiting for her dad and aunt’s shift to end was Lauren. Years later that toddler turned teen babysat her Aunt Dana’s kids at their home which just happened to be located across the street from the Kaloidis family home. And the forces of fate didn’t seem to rest because years later Vasi noticed the pretty girl Lauren working for none other than his mom at Spartan Restaurant.

By the time Vasi and Lauren finally properly met inside Spartan’s, both Vasi and Lauren’s aunt had each moved to different homes and different addresses, but not that different. As it so happened, at some point between Vasi and Lauren’s first date and their eventual trip down the aisle when their relationship was newly budding, Lauren and Vasi were talking outside his home, soaking in the last few minutes before Lauren had to leave to babysit for her aunt. The couple say goodbye, Lauren drives away in her car and proceeds to pull into a driveway adjacent to Vasi’s. Fate found Lauren’s aunt again living a stone’s throw from Vasi. Thinking about all the times they must have been within talking distance of one another and never really meeting makes Vasi smile. Vasi who graduated from The Gunnery and Northeastern University pursued a career in finance and insurance for a while; however, he ultimately rediscovered that his life’s work meshed in his heritage with the tastes and love and lessons of his childhood. The lessons of his immigrant father were to respect others, respect work hard, and know the value of a dollar. After realizing the world of finance was not a comfortable place for him, Vasi came back to work at his parents’ Spartan Restaurant for a year before creating his own eatery aptly named Vasi’s. Vasi’s doors opened in 2001. The career moves began the best years of Vasi’s life. Lauren grew up in the restaurant business and remained part of that world until becoming part of Yale’s healthcare team this past year. The couple’s first date was breakfast during which Lauren admitted to Vasi that the spot he chose was actually her mother’s competitor. Lauren’s mom, Kelly, still owns Coddington’s on Meadow in Naugatuck, the popular place to grab breakfast and lunch.

Lauren grew up understanding both the restaurant business and the value of family, so the couple’s lives and know-how blended well. Vasi’s Restaurant’s banquet hall lives as Lauren’s first child and continues to be a successful aspect of Vasi’s business. Vasi’s Restaurant and Bar recently caught the eye of Gordon Ramsay’s team and will be featured in January as the restaurant of the week on FOX’s series 24 Hours to Hell and Back. Gordon Ramsay’s tact and gentle demeanor are fairly unknown. The television personality, arriving in his state-of-the-art 18-wheeler housing a mobile kitchen and command center, brought his sharp tongue and biting attacks to set for the camera. Vasi recalls seeing the caravan and semi bearing the name Hell on Wheels arriving to meet his nervous apprehension and hesitant staff. Vasi concedes the process of being part of the series required him to swallow his Greek pride. Humbling and difficult describe his experience. To his credit, Vasi stayed open throughout the ordeal. In the end, Vasi’s gained a new menu and a renovation. The restaurant learned a few new tricks, gained some new perspectives and became a much closer family. “Before facing Gordon Ramsay, my staff and I were like distant cousins, but now we are more like siblings.” “I always say as a proud American with deep roots in the Greek culture that I am an American, but my blood runs blue and white for Greece, “ Vasi confesses. Gordon Ramsay got Vasi to see he needed to bring more of this loved heritage to Vasi’s menu. Vasi and Lauren want their children, two and a half-year-old twins whose namesakes are Vasi’s parents (Demetra and Athanasios) to grow up with the traditions that were Vasi’s as a child. When asked what that would look like, Vasi reminisces back to going to his Greek church, attending Greek school, and idling in Greece’s summers. The family is planning another trip to Greece with Vasi’s parents, a few cousins, and some close friends. “It is very important to me to show people Greece. Greece is where I came from and shows who I am.”

Admittedly, Vasi and Lauren know unquestionably that the restaurant is another child requiring a great deal of time and attention. Be that as it may, the couple balances life outside of the restaurant. Vasi understands the need to step away from the restaurant when he can to be the attentive father he is. Another wedge of time is being an active organizer of The Athan Kaloidis Golf Tournament, a golf tournament he and his father launched to raise money for Make A Wish Foundation and is now overseen by Vasi and his brother, John, to raise money for children in need and endures as only part of the charity work the family performs. Middlebury has been home to Vasi for thirty-three years, and he has always loved the town. Recently moving into a new home in a new neighborhood, the couple feels welcomed and excited for this next chapter. And no, Lauren’s aunt no longer lives on the same street as Vasi. Fate did its job and can relax.

 

  • Kaloidis Family Favorites Favorite Season: Fall
  • Favorite Comfort Food: Greek Lasagna Pastitsio
  • Best Advice: Be good and kind. We live in a world that can be tough, hard, and negative. Be positive and positivity will be returned.
  • Favorite Restaurant: Vasi’s and Spartan Restaurants (What would you expect?)
  • Favorite Memory: Our Wedding Day and the last few times Vasi shared with his dad before his dad’s passing.