New York has a lot of energy, in part because its people drink a ton of coffee.
At diners and delis throughout the city, millions consume coffee each day, but few know the brand behind the blend.
Vassilaros & Sons, a company based in Queens, has been providing black fuel to New Yorkers for 99 years. A Greek immigrant named John Vassilaros founded the company while on sick leave from his job as a restaurant waiter back in 1918. His roasted coffee beans quickly became a favorite amongst Greek restaurateurs, and Vassilaros would later invest his earnings in fellow immigrants seeking to start their own diner establishments.
According to family lore, Vassilaros was so popular with New York’s Greek community that he served as the godfather to over 300 children.
Four generations later, the company remains in the family and is now led by Vassilaros’ great-granddaughter Stefani Kasselakis Kyles. She helps manage their distribution network of more than 2,000 restaurants in New York City and neighboring states. The company sells enough coffee grounds for over 5 million cups of coffee each week, some of which are consumed at the New York City Police Academy as well as at fire departments around the city to help teams stay alert during long shifts.
“Millions of New Yorkers are drinking our coffee, [but] nobody knows it,” said Kyles.
As Vassilaros & Sons nears its 100th year in operation, Kyles and her colleagues hope to finally change that.