Kary Andrinopoulos was born in a village in southern Greece during World War II. After college, he worked as an accountant, and met and married his wife, Pat. They came to America and settled in Peabody in 1971. Kary worked for Sylvania in Salem for 15 years before buying Brothers Deli in Peabody in 1986. He moved New Brothers Restaurant & Deli to Danvers Square in 2000, and it is known as one of the last delis in the area to serve Jewish-style favorites, such as corned beef, pastrami, and flanken. Kary and Pat have two sons, Elias and George, and two granddaughters, Irina and Kyriaki.
Kary, you were born in Greece during World War II when the Nazis occupied Germany. How was it growing up at that time?
They were tough times. Because of the Germans – they were barbarians. The Nazis destroyed the country. They occupied Greece until 1945. I remember my mother, Stauroula, used to say, ‘Don’t go out, stay home.’ She’d say, ‘Go in the basement because maybe the Germans will come to take you.’ After the war ended, the country had to be rebuilt and it took a long, long time. A lot of men were killed in the war – they were the workers and it left the country with young kids and women. It was a tough period. I used to see women outside dressed in black because they were in mourning. My father, Elias, died in 1951, and I was eight then. He owned grape and olive tree farms.
You were in the Greek Army?
Yes, I was a second lieutenant in the Greek Army, from 1964-66. There was no war. It’s compulsory – I’d like to see that in America. I went to college and studied economics and then I worked in accounting.
When did you come to America?
In 1970, I married my wife Pat and we came to Peabody in 1971. I went to work for Sylvania in Salem at the light bulb plant. I was a production supervisor there for 16 years and then my brother-in-law and I decided to go into the restaurant business. So we owned Brothers Deli in Peabody from 1986-1999, and then we moved the restaurant to Danvers Square.
You had no food experience – why did you want to own a deli?
I wanted to do something for myself and the opportunity arose, and we did it. In the beginning, it was challenging and I had to learn the business. But I met a lot of customers and made a lot of friends and the business grew. To be successful, we provided good quality food at a reasonable price in a good atmosphere where everybody felt at home.
You have a special connection with Jews.
Yes, for several reasons. The Greeks have the Old Testament, which is the same as the Jewish Bible. All the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – are part of our religion. Even in the Greek Orthodox Church, during weddings, the priest blesses the newlyweds and wishes them to be like Abraham and all the Jewish patriarchs.
Another connection has to do with the Jews that lived in Greece. In my village where I grew up, there were Jewish families. I was raised to respect Jews. And I also know the history of Greek Jews and there have been Jews in Greece for more than 2,000 years. In Corinth, there was a synagogue before Jesus during the Roman times. There were also Jews in Thessaloniki for more than 2,000 years.
When I was young, I learned about the Holocaust and what the Nazis did to Greek Jews. They took about 60,000 from the city of Thessaloniki, and sent them on trains and killed most of them in Auschwitz. This was a huge loss for Greece. The Jews were gone, the economy declined, and the culture vanished.
Do you think Jews and Greeks are a lot alike?
Yes, of course. We’re hardworking, we do what we need to support our family. Family wise – we have a lot in common. Jewish and Greek families are very close. We have a lot of respect and pride in our parents and children. It’s the center of our life.
Is the deli a Jewish restaurant?
I think it is. Maybe because a lot of Jews came from Eastern Europe and there were delis there. And there’s a long history of Jewish delis in America, and so many Jews grew up eating in delis. Corned beef is probably the most Jewish style food here. You have to buy good quality and then prepare it, and serve it right. Some people like lean corned beef but here and there you find someone wants a fatty corned beef. Pastrami is also a Jewish food. We also have one meal that we serve during the week, flanken. A lot of Jewish customers tell me, ‘Oh my mother or grandmother used to make that for me.’ I met a lot of Jews here at the restaurant and I learned what they like to eat. Here, Jews are some of my best and loyal customers. I have close Jewish friends going back 40 years from the restaurant.
One of the secrets to your business is you make everyone feel comfortable in your restaurant.
I try to get to know all of the customers. I speak to everyone, and welcome them and thank everyone with my heart. I’m interested in everyone. I guess it’s my personality. I try to respect everybody – it doesn’t matter what religion you are.
You give back to your community, and are involved with a lot of local civic organizations.
If you have a restaurant you have to get involved with other people. I’m the mayor of the Rotary Club in Danvers. Also, I belong to the North Shore Chamber of Commerce. I belong to the St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church in Peabody. I was also the first recipient of the Americanism Award from the Drapeau-McPhetres American Legion Post 180 of Danvers.
One of your dreams is to visit Israel.
Yes, I hope to go to Israel after the war. And another dream I have is for there to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hamas has to go, and when they are defeated, the Palestinians will be freed from their own slavery. And one day the people of Iran will be free. The Iranian regime now is causing most of the problems in the Middle East – they’re supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen. We can’t accept this.
What does the American Dream mean to you?
The dream is very hard. You have to work very, very hard to fulfill the American Dream. Don’t expect the government to give you anything. You have to work for it. You have to work hard to try to do the best you can do. I’m 80 and I don’t count the hours I work each day. If you count the hours, you might be depressed. But I feel good when I work.
Everybody seems to gravitate toward you. What do you think the meaning of life is?
You have to be kind to others so that they will be kind to you. Θ