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10 - PRAIRIE POST - Friday, May 8, 2015

Best of Swift Current Akropol serving up good food and music

After 53 years in business, the Gannitsos family has nailed the recipe for success when it comes to dining in Swift Current. John Gannitsos has owned and operated the family business, Akropol Family Restaurant and Dining Room, in downtown Swift Current for the past 20 years. For the second year in a row, the restaurant was a winner in the Prairie Post’sBest of Swift Current online contest. Akropol won in two categories: Best Casual/Family Dining and Best Pizza Restaurant. “It felt really good,” says Gannitsos about the two first-place finishes. “It’s always nice to get accolades. We work hard.” If there is a secret to

running a successful business, Gannitsos isn’t sharing the details. “It’s just doing 53 years of what my dad taught me,” he

says. “You treat everyone like family and make sure you serve good meals.” George Gannitsos travelled to Regina from Greece in 1959. In 1962 he moved to Swift Current and opened what was then called the Akropol Café in the restaurant’s current location. He was married to Helen in 1967 and the two raised three children in Swift Current. Now John, with his wife Rebecca, owns and runs the family business which features a menu of Canadian and Greek cuisine. In 2005, Next Door Cocktail Lounge and Patio added a licensed lounge and patio to the restaurant. While there isn’t just one item that likely sets Akropol apart from other eating establishments in the city, John knows the spinach pizza is unique and enjoyed by regular customers.

Mondays to Wednesdays are hit and miss

when it comes to how full the restaurant may be for lunch or dinner, but Thursday to Saturdays it is guaranteed to be busy. “Those are our bread and butter days,”

says John. Akropol is closed Sundays and holidays,

to give staff a much-deserved break. While John already has a good handle on what works for the business there is always room for improvement. He is working on new menus which will add some new dishes and take away some others which aren’t as popular. Patrons will also see some big

changes to the patio area starting this month. John will turn the current space into a three-season seating area by adding a roof and installing decorative garage doors which will create an indoor/outdoor feel. Through the spring and summer, live music will be a feature in the lounge/patio area. While it will make for an attractive space to enjoy free time, it will also keep the rain and summer heat off customers. While some industries are affected more with a

downturn in the economy, John isn’t too concerned about the most recent oil and gas industry woes. He says Swift Current is heavily-based on agriculture and he tends to notice more of a slowdown when the ‘snowbirds’ head south for the winter months after Christmas. “You just have to weather it,” he adds about the economic ups and downs.

Prairie Post file photo

Akropol hosts special musical evenings through the summer at their Next Door Cocktail Lounge and Patio. Here, Winnipeg-based indie-roots artist Ingrid Gatin performed.

It’s easier to do that when you have a dedicated staff

who provide exceptional customer service. While it can be hard to find some kitchen staff and cooks, John says he has been fortunate. “We’ve had some really good waitresses here for a long time too,” he adds. Treating customers like family also makes for a more successful business model. The people the restaurant serves is one of John’s favourite parts about the restaurant business and he enjoys the mingling he gets to do throughout the day. He is also a fan of the city. “Swift Current is a nice city,” he adds. “It’s one of those cities that is good for families. My wife is not from here, and she enjoys it here and has made some good friends.”

Stylist works hard to be the best in the business

For 24 years, Tabatha Neustaeter has been cutting and styling clients hair, so it should be no surprise she is considered one of the best in Swift Current. Hair Works by Tab was voted Best Beauty/Hair Salon in Prairie Post’s Best of Swift Current online contest this year. “It’s always nice to be recognized as the top in your industry for your city,” says Neustaeter, about the accolades. “It means that my clients love me as much as I love and appreciate them.”

Although in the beauty business for 24

years, Neustaeter has been self-employed with her own shop for the past 13 years. It is a business which can easily ride out the ups and downs of the economy because, as she points out, everyone needs their hair done. One of the reasons why Neustaeter loves the industry so much is because as a stylist she has the power to make people feel and look good. She prides herself on her honesty and believes she has a good sense of humour. That leads to happy clients and repeat business.


one. It results in her considering a lot of clients to be like family. “Working and doing business in a smaller city is always rewarding. You get to know your clients and their families on a very personal basis,” she adds. “I refer to my clients as my ‘hair family’.”

Although a seasoned professional, Neustaeter still works on her skills and believes continuing education is important. The hair industry is always changing so she will attend classes on styles, colours and cuts, to help stay on top of her game, even if she is not sure she will ever use what she is learning on any of her clients.

Neustaeter says she works to build relationships with her customers and believes both she and the client have to work together to ensure the end result is a satisfactory

This is the second year in a row Neustaeter has earned the top spot in the city for her craft. She says to be honoured twice is “incredible beyond words.” Neustaeter knows she couldn’t have been name one of the best without the support of her loyal clients, as they are the people who have made her into the stylist she is today. “Without them I wouldn’t be in business,” she adds. “My key, I think, to success is try your best always, listen, keep up on change and education and have compassion. Treat others as you want to be treated and most of all have fun doing it.

Photo contributed

Tabatha Neustaeter works on a client in her salon Hair Works by Tab.

How comforting: RMT wins for the second consecutive year If you go to the Railway Health Clinic’s Facebook page,

you will see the list of positive comments about the recently redone wellness centre building at 275 Railway North and those who work in it. One of those people is Amber Knudsen, a self-employed, registered massage therapist, who works out of the Railway Health Clinic location. For the second year in a row, Knudsen earned the most

votes in the Best Massage Company (Therapist) in Prairie Post’s survey. She feels fortunate to not only work in an environment with a group of talented individuals, but to be recognized by voters in this category. “I was very humbled to hear I won. I strive everyday to do

my best work and it is something I will continue to work towards. Building a great working relationship with my clientele has helped people get to know me better,” explains Knudsen adding her gratefulness to be recognized two years in a row. “I was very excited and humbled at the same time. I have been very blessed to work in the Swift Current area and even more fortunate to deal with the best

clientele around.”

Knudsen likes Swift Current because it is so tight-knit — something she relishes as a business person. “I feel very comfortable working in Swift Current and the southwest because I get to interact with my clients on a daily basis outside work,” explains Knudsen. “(And), I always hope that all businesses in Swift Current and area thrive because our success as individual businesses happen as a community.” The massage therapy vocation is a difficult one to not only get into, but the innovations and constant changes and upgrades in training are crucial to maintain. Knudsen is registered with the Natural Health

Practitioners of Canada. The NHPC is a non-profit association of Canadian massage practitioners. She is fully trained in therapeutic, relaxation, and pregnancy massage. “I will always work hard to provide my clients with the best service I possibly can,” says Knudsen. “I continue my education yearly and have just introduced different types of aromatherapy into my practice.”

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