House of Pizza celebrating 40 years serving Bristol

State Street restaurant will welcome guests to a public party April 24

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Bristol House of Pizza is throwing a party, and everyone is invited.

The popular State Street eatery is turning 40 later this month (April 27), and to mark the occasion, BHOP owners George and Tula Gatos, along with their son, restaurant manager Greg Gatos, will be hosting an evening of food, drink, prizes and giveaways in their usual inimitable, homey fashion.
The event will take place on Monday, April 24, from 4-8 p.m., at Bristol House of Pizza, 55 State St.

“We want to thank all of our loyal customers and friends for their patronage over these last 40 years,” said Tula Gatos, who with her husband of nearly 49 years, George, will open their restaurant doors for an evening of good food and friendship.

The story of the Gatos’ venture to Bristol from their native Greece has been well documented.

George Gatos, who will turn 73 next month, immigrated to the United States in September 1968. He was born in Nayplion, in the southern part of Greece, and was a jack of all trades, excelling as a carpenter and mechanic, among other occupations. He was also an intelligence officer in the Greek Navy during his military service.

In an arranged marriage, George and Tula wed in 1968 in a one-week time frame, and the two have been inseparable ever since.

“We came to Worcester, and lived there for 5 and a half years before moving to Coventry, and started a pizza business (Coventry House of Pizza) in 1974,” George Gatos recalled. “It was a success.”

From there, he eventually found his way to Bristol, and opened Bristol House of Pizza in 1977. As they say, the rest is history.

Prices back then were a lot different than they are today. A small pizza was $1.40, and a small grinder, 45 cents. The BHOP menu consisted primarily of pizza, grinders and spaghetti. Today, the food offerings are much more expansive. Everything from pizza to dinner specials grace the menu.

“I love the people in this town,” Mr. Gatos said. “I have a lot of respect for them. They are all very special to me.”

Mr. Gatos has an infectious smile and brings a great deal of humor to the table each and every day. “I love to joke with my employees and customers. It’s part of who I am,” he said
As time progressed, George and Tula received plenty of help from their sons, Telly and Greg Gatos. The four worked diligently to help make the business the well-known eatery it is today.

“We were also lucky to have had many great high school and college kids working here with us,” Tula Gatos said. “We’ve had mothers and daughters working here. They’ve become part of our family.”

One such employee, Alex Jarl of Pawtucket, has been working at Bristol House for almost seven years, and says it’s been a pleasure working alongside the family.

“I love working for Tula and George,” she said. “They are super generous and super people. We love them, and they love us back.”

Greg Gatos will likely take over the business from his parents some day. He’s well in tune with how the restaurant functions and its capabilities, and is always looking at ways to make it better, he said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of all of this,” Greg Gatos said. “The family-oriented base is what we have here. This has been a hot spot for lunch. We have doctors, business people, construction workers, etc., coming in here all the time. A lot of the faces are the same, so I’m assuming we’re doing something right.

“The business is more competitive now,” he continued. “We have to maintain a competitive edge as we move forward. It’s been a blast. I love this business. The one thing I can say is that we don’t focus on quantity; we focus on quality.”

As the main man behind Bristol House of Pizza, George Gatos has no intention of throwing in the towel. Retirement has never entered his mind.

“I feel pretty good, health-wise,” he said. “Tula and I have worked side-by-side every day. It’s a demanding job, but it’s been a lot of fun. We have great people around us. I’ll keep going as long as I can. I’ll work 9 days a week, if I have to.”
Tula Gatos says the secret to success has been her faithful employees and the wonderful customers who have passed through their doors these past four decades.

Longtime customer and native Bristolian Manuel “Bibs” Vargas, summed it up nicely.

“I’ve been coming to Bristol House on Friday nights for 40 years,” he said proudly. “I was here right from the beginning. It’s a family place where everyone feels comfortable. Whether they’re eating pizza or something else, they’re always treated like family. You get a lot for your money, and George, Tula, and everyone else who works here are so cordial. They do a great job. It’s always a pleasure coming here, time and time again.”

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