This brother-sister team is the duo behind the Teela Restaurant Group that operates Teela Taqueria and Tin Can Fish House & Oyster Bar in Sandy Springs, Tin Can Oyster Bar in Brookhaven and Filo’s in Buckhead. The pair grew up in a Greek household in Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia) in the middle of a civil war. “There was always a lot of baking and cooking going on,” recalls Nikitas Panagopoulos, who is 18 months younger than his sister. “The world had imposed sanctions against Rhodesia,” adds Artie Antoniades, “so we really only had the basics to choose from. Things like butter, feta cheese, olives, shellfish and even mushrooms were considered a luxury. But we always had plenty of food at home, and friends were always coming over to eat my mom’s yummy meals.” That shared love of food and entertaining people is the backbone of the company they started in 2009, 16 years after emigrating to Atlanta. It’s clear from their connection that these siblings aren’t just partners in business, but in life.
Were you close growing up?
Nikitas: Growing up, I was closer with my younger brother, Harry [who’s an operating partner at Filo’s]. Artie was a little bit of a tattletale. But she and I got closer as we got older, and now we’re very close. Maybe we’re closer now because we’re immigrants. It’s hard when you start a whole new life as an adult.
What’s the secret to your success?
Artie: Nik and I are both very warm and welcoming and genuinely love our customers. I believe that’s what sets us apart, and what will make any restaurant survive in tough times. Nikitas: The secret to maintaining a successful restaurant is service and consistency. If someone likes a dish and comes back for it, it needs to be the same every time.
How is it working so closely together?
Artie: Initially we clashed a lot. I came from a more structured business background [her own recruiting firm], while Nik has a much looser sense of how things should be run. It took some time adjusting, but we work extremely well together now. The benefits of working together are that we always look out for each other, we’re there to pick each other up, and of course, there’s no one more trustworthy than your own family. Nikitas: It’s really good. We bounce ideas off each other. Our schedules are different, so we’re not in each other’s hair too much. If the two of you ever have an argument or don’t see eye to eye on something, how do you get past it? Artie: We really don’t have arguments anymore. We work really well together and have a good respect for each other. We talk things through and are both flexible.
Do you spend a lot of time together outside of work?
Artie: We don’t spend a lot of time together as we are both working and value our time with our significant others. But family is number one for us, so 90 percent of the holidays are spent together. We sometimes go out together for brunch or lunch on the weekends. Nikitas: We have family dinners and play cards—poker—together. Everyone’s gunning for everyone— it’s always a fight.
What’s your favorite memory related to being siblings?
Artie: We just had the most wonderful upbringing in Zimbabwe and were surrounded by many friends. The boys were always up to some prank or another. Like, unbeknownst to my mom, Nik and Harry would try their luck at making wine and would hide it in their closet. Nikitas: Building a restaurant together. The starting up of it. Her and my input coming together. It’s like a passion, something you want to do, rather than a job. That’s how we look at it.
STORY: Jill Becker
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna