For Charles Bililies, founder and CEO, and Tony Cervone, chef and partner, at San Francisco’s Souvla, the best approach to life is to find what you love—and then just do it really, really well. For this dynamic duo, that’s souvlaki: grilled skewered meats roasted and dripping to perfection, and served with casually elegant California flair. What started as a passion project has turned into a brand with four locations and a cult-like following in the Bay Area. Charles’ and Tony’s restaurants have proven so successful, they’ve pioneered a new category of restaurant dining they call “fast fine,” a format now replicated throughout the country.
Not surprisingly, this combination of old-world precision and new-world creativity stems in large part from Charles’s Greek-American heritage: He perfected the art of grilled lamb at his grandfather’s side before teaming up with Tony, then the Chef de Cuisine at Kokkari, another beloved San Francisco Greek restaurant. Whether they’re turning a 1971 Chevy StepVan into the country’s first frozen Greek-yogurt truck, creating meals served in Delta Airlines’ first-class cabins, or inadvertently becoming one of the largest buyers of Greek wines in the United States, these guys are always discovering, innovating and sharing, their latest passions.
As a proud Greek-American, I want to get people excited about Greece, and especially about Greek food and wine.Charles Bililies
I started cooking at seventeen, bussing tables. I’ve always simply liked hosting and serving people and making good food.Tony Cervone