By: Hunter Hobbs & Elena Cawley (Manchester Times)
A lot has changed in Manchester since 1972. Businesses have moved on, parks have been built, and schools have been relocated. One constant, however, is the J&G Pizza and Steak House restaurant run by Jim and Lisa Rouvelas.
Everyone who has ever set foot in the eatery, will tell you about the huge painting of the Parthenon, the woodwork on top of the red walls and the House Special pizza. But while the atmosphere makes J&G unique, the people make it unforgettable.
Lisa and Jim have owned and operated the restaurant for 48 years –Lisa still takes orders and refills drinks, and Jim still prepares the pizza dough in the kitchen. They have served the community through the good times and bad.
The Rouvelas family has been a part of the community for almost five decades. To put it in perspective, the restaurant precedes Interstate 24, which was completed around 1973.
“My parents came from a small village in Greece, right outside Corinth,” said daughter Kiki Sherrill, who has followed in the steps of her parents and has worked at the J&G – well, since she was old enough to work. Now, she and her husband, Justin, work full time at the restaurant.
“I think there may have only been 100 people in that village,” Sherrill said about her parents’ hometown. “They originally moved to Chicago where there was work in factories, before eventually moving down south with my aunt. My aunt and uncle owned a restaurant, and that was probably where my parents got the idea to start their own.”
As for why the Rouvelas decided to set up a restaurant in Manchester, Sherrill said that “it was probably because the small-town atmosphere reminded them of home.”
This small-town feeling of togetherness has gone back into the restaurant as well.
“My mother remembers all the customers that come in here and she sees them as family,” Sherrill said. “She will even make sure to go to their funerals to pay her respects.”
The Rouvelas family is also charitable to the community at large.
“We try to help out anybody that asks,” Sherrill said. “To be honest I’m not sure just how many things we sponsor. I know we sponsor tons of sports programs. Me and my sister, (Dina Rouvelas Cole) went to school here and played sports, so that is a special thing for the family.”
When members of the community find themselves in rough financial situations, the Rouvelas family helps fight the misfortune.
They are always there to assist, but they never talk about it. It’s hard for most people to hear about all the charity the family does because Lisa Rouvelas is adamant that the family stays humble.
“My mother says that we are very fortunate to have all the support we have in the community, so it’s important for our family to give back,” Sherrill said.
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