HIGH POINT, N.C. – Kiki Hassapelis has been in the restaurant business for more than 50 years – all of those years in High Point.
She is the owner of Village Café Express in High Point where she is best known as “Mama Kiki.”
“Everybody feels like if you feed them, you’re their mama,” she said.
She immigrated to High Point from Greece in 1955.
“In 1964, we opened up a place downtown,” she said.
The business has changed names and locations over the years, eventually leading to where it is on Greensboro Road.
A sign posted on the restaurant’s door notified customers that Friday, May 26, Hassapelis’ restaurant career would come to a close.
At 81 years old, Hassapelis decided it was time to sell the restaurant.
“It will be a sad day. It’s one of those situations that you’re happy and you’re sad at the same time,” she said.
Hassapelis says she will miss the people the most.
Nancy and Bob Yates say Hassapelis and the people at the restaurant has meant a lot to their family.
“It’s more than just a restaurant. They took our daughter in and it was her first job as a waitress. They were kind to her. They gave her a home,” Nancy Yates said.
“We just wanted to tell her that we’re happy for her,” Bob Yates said.
Hassapelis is looking forward to enjoying retirement, but remains thankful for the memories.
“I’m thankful that of all the countries that [are] in the world, God had put me in this country because in this country you can be anything you want to be as long as you want to,” she said.