The touristic promotion of the island depends, on a big percentage, on the companies and services offered in Leros. The team of lerosisland.gr, by taking into consideration the efforts made by private sector, will present a series of interviews taken from individual business’ owners of the island. To start with, we present you an interview of Haris Karpathakis, owner of the pastry shop “Paradosiako”.
What is the story of your business?
Our pastry shop started to operate almost 20 years ago. However, the story starts a lot of years before that, since my grandmother was known around the island for the delicious traditional desserts that she was baking at her house. She achieved to transfer her passion to her daughter and therefore my mother decided to make the extra step needed in order to open a pastry shop. Now, I am the third generation twist. I decided from an early age that I want to study as a pastry chef and be part of that family tradition.
What would you recommend for someone to try in your pastry shop?
We are trying to keep as much as we can the tradition because it is where we started. A visitor should definitely try the traditional desserts of the island such as “pougkakia”, “diples” and the almond bites. However, if there is something that definitely one must try is a dessert called “patsavouropita”. Although is not a traditional, “patsavouropita” is our signature and has been established as one of the island’s flavors. My mother used to make changes to the classic recipe of the dessert, as known in Northern Greece. She added yogurt, vanilla and a lot of passion and the result was amazing. Now, I personally recommend to the visitors to try this dessert with mastiha ice-cream.
The summer season has now ended, how can you characterize it? Have you noticed any increase or decrease of tourists and why?
On my point of view, the summer season started very good with great potentials. A big percentage of visitors in Leros come from Turkey. I think that the political developments that took place in the neighboring country, around in the mid-summer season, achieved to influence the influx of Turkish visitors in Leros.
In general, I would say that the summer season was fairly good and I want to believe that every year will become better.
How are you trying to improve your business and attract new customers?
It is very crucial for every business in the island to constantly trying to improve in every way because this is a way to create a good image of the island. At our pastry shop, “Paradosiako”, we are trying every year to enrich our menu with new entries either these are spiced up traditional flavors or contemporary ones. In addition, we are trying to improve our customer service and, in a way, develop a more friendly relationship with them. It is not a coincidence that a lot of foreign visitors of Leros know us, and our employees, and call us with our names. Such kind of direct relationships is part of the Greek hospitality.
What can you say about the level of young employees in Leros?
Young people who live and work in our island are now able to offer services of really good quality. They are educated, they speak foreign languages and they have started to implement a lot of new ideas. However, there is always some space for improvements. Communication is a really important factor when it comes to tourism sector. In every job, I believe that, knowing at least one foreign language is a serious advantage. Furthermore, the fact that the island remains untouched from the mass tourism makes thing better for young employees when it comes to authentic hospitality. The important is to know the basics and then try to improve them. By offering services of good quality and good customer service we are all taking part in this effort to improve the image of Leros.
How difficult is for a business man to maintain a business in Leros island?
As difficult it is to maintain a business nowadays in the whole country! However, we are facing a couple of extra difficulties. Firstly, it is the winter season. It means that the island’s economy is heavily based on tourism. During winter when the tourists are not much, one can observe a reduction of in the business cycle in the majority of businesses. Secondly, we are facing the issue of distance. In other words, for a business which is located in an island closer to Athens, it is easier to have access in services that are generally useful in the operation and improvement of the business.
Would you recommend to young people to stay and invest in the island?
It is very important that young people decide to stay in the island. As a young person I decided to stay here and improve our family business. I believe that it is not so difficult nowadays for young people to start something new and invest here. As far as I can see, there are a lot of things missing in the tourism sector. As a new generation we have to spot them and fill the gaps. By simply doing this we will attract new tourists and upgrade the status of the island in general. There are a lot opportunities for all of us.