It may not be the most stereotypical image to walk around the Netherlands and see the locals enjoying their freddo coffee, but it is very true! The explanation for how this happened is very simple...
It all started in 2013 when Kostas Giannopoulos, following his career as a handball player, left Greece and AEK by transferring to HBK Käerjeng in Luxembourg.
A subsequent business activity led him to conceive the inspired idea. Giannopoulos said: "Initially, TSU was created by me and my partner, wife and now mother of our daughter, Vicky Ioannidou. TSU existed in our minds for quite some time as a project."
"Being abroad for about ten years and after our experience in creating two other businesses (Greek souvlaki), we felt the world's need for a shop similar to TSU as we see it now. The name comes from the word tsoureki and came at a time when Vicky and I were making changes in our lives," he said.
"In the beginning, we were looking for a name that was funny but also easy for everyone to pronounce. This name combined with the colorful branding made us smile during the first difficult weeks of the launch that coincided with the covid period," explained the former handballer.
The two have been living permanently in the Netherlands for the past two years. As it is easy to see, creating a business in a foreign market in the midst of covid is not the easiest thing to do. The difficulties were enough, however, the final result justified them.
As he told Travel: "In the beginning, Vicky and I worked endless hours. Of course, I was lucky because Vicky is a perfectionist, with persistence and vision and so we soon managed to create daily customers and a community of our own."
"This meant that we would withstand a tourist market like the Markthal, because we were bringing the locals in, beyond the tourists but also the Greeks who supported us from the first moment."
When asked what he remembers most vividly from the first days of TSU's operation, he excitedly said: "I remember the many beautiful comments, the baking, the anxiety that everyone should leave satisfied but also a little insecurity about whether people will come to try again."
"I also remember the first time we sold everything, Vicky and I went for a ride and we fell off the bike with joy.
"Which comment do I single out? From a Dutchman - who was suspicious at first - the best comment you can hear is that when he tried our spinach pie, for example, he said it returned him to the island he goes to every summer.
"We keep hearing lots of thanks and well done from the Dutch and that's wonderful. The Greeks, on the other hand, the comment they consistently give us is that 'this is like my mom's'. This comment is second to none!”
TSU's sold out products are its spinach pie, baklava and of course the tsoureki. Freddo coffee is also in high demand. Apart from the Greeks, who were expected to seek it out, many foreigners also prefer it.
Their sweets, which were initially considered "supplementary products", have a significant appeal.
Giannopoulos underlined that: "The pies and sweets of Greece, when they are of good quality, they make your hands happy because they it takes the customer back to their vacation or to the neighbourhood where they grew up."
"One of our conveniences was that while we initially struggled financially to make it, people didn't see any imperfections, because we gave them something very tasty, of high quality and always with a smile," he continued.
"There is nothing nicer than seeing people eating our bougatsa and saying 'guys it's like the one I get next to my house'. Freddo in our shop was from the first moment more than just a coffee, it was an occasion for a very sincere socialising between us," added Giannopoulos.
In addition to "word of mouth advertising", which is perhaps the best, they invested from the very beginning in very active social media to communicate their venture.
For this reason, they also approached Mr. Alexandros Vryonakis who is the third member who completes their team. They call him the "Dad" of the team and the reason they even became a Greek Pies and Pastries Shop.
The success of TSU led them some time ago to the decision to open another store, this time in their familiar, Luxembourg.
"Luxembourg has been our second home for a long time and we know a lot of people and the market. Our goal is to become a chain and for everyone to get a taste of the experience we offer," Giannopoulos said.
"At the urging of a friend who lives there - and in fact our first investor and partner - Onik and his wife Ioanna, we took our first step of development. We feel great about it, Luxembourg has embraced us," he continued.
"Our future plans include a third store, while through our holding we want to complete our ideas and grow. We still have a lot to learn and we don't want to run any faster than we have to. If we are healthy everything will come in time."
TSU can be found at Dominee Jan Scharpstraat 298, 3011 GZ, Rotterdam AND 11 Avenue de la Porte Neuve , L-2227, Luxembourg City.
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