Family-owned Hanover pizza parlor to close this month

Kenny Fabrikant, left, who co-owns the Rosey Jekes building with his wife Jeanne, stops by to check in with his neighbor, restaurant owner Elaine Georgakopoulos at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Georgakopoulos is selling the building and is closing the restaurant on June 22, and said she hopes to spend more time with her family and travel to Greece in her retirement. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Kenny Fabrikant, left, who co-owns the Rosey Jekes building with his wife Jeanne, stops by to check in with his neighbor, restaurant owner Elaine Georgakopoulos at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Georgakopoulos is selling the building and is closing the restaurant on June 22, and said she hopes to spend more time with her family and travel to Greece in her retirement. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Alex Driehaus

Restaurant owner Elaine Georgakopoulos packs a pepperoni pizza at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Restaurant owner Elaine Georgakopoulos packs a pepperoni pizza at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Josh Carr preps pizza dough at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Carr has worked at the restaurant for nearly 23 years, and both of the Papadoliopoulos sisters were in his wedding. “It’s crazy to think that this place is ending,” he said. “It’s just like family to me.” (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Josh Carr preps pizza dough at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Carr has worked at the restaurant for nearly 23 years, and both of the Papadoliopoulos sisters were in his wedding. “It’s crazy to think that this place is ending,” he said. “It’s just like family to me.” (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News - Alex Driehaus

Clockwise from left, family members Aphrodite Papadoliopoulos, Soula Papadoliopoulos, Tyler Davis, 9, Wesley Belanger, 3, and Kyle Davis laugh as they sit together at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. C&A was opened by the Papadoliopoulos sisters’ grandparents in 1976, and Soula still works at the restaurant with her mother. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Clockwise from left, family members Aphrodite Papadoliopoulos, Soula Papadoliopoulos, Tyler Davis, 9, Wesley Belanger, 3, and Kyle Davis laugh as they sit together at C&A Pizza in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. C&A was opened by the Papadoliopoulos sisters’ grandparents in 1976, and Soula still works at the restaurant with her mother. (Valley News - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News - Alex Driehaus

By JOHN LIPPMAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-06-2024 5:01 PM

HANOVER — Elaine Georgakopoulos doesn’t know how many pizzas she’s made in her life.

“I couldn’t even guess,” she laughs when asked. “I know it’s a lot.”

A lot, indeed.

Georgakopoulos and her family’s pizza parlor, C & A Pizza, has been dishing out its Greek-style pizzas from its plain Lebanon Street location since 1976, and she and her ex-husband took over the business from her parents — Costas and Aphrodite, the “C” and “A” in C & A — in 1993.

But on Saturday, June 22, Georgakopoulos and her daughter, Soula Papadoliopoulos, and their longtime aide-de-pizza Josh Carr, will prep their last batch of pizzas in the morning, stack them in the refrigerator to later bring out to bake in the oven, marking an end to the eatery’s 48-year history.

Word of C & A Pizza’s closing hit the Hanover High School alumni community especially hard, many who flooded the school’s Facebook alumni page with comments to share their memories of what had been a favorite destination for lunch, or after-school and post-game meals.

One of the last downtown Hanover businesses that go back to the day when South Main Street had a pharmacy, a department store and grocery store before trendy boutiques and bubble tea took over, C & A’s is the only eatery in town that might be able to claim delivering late-night pizzas to the dorm rooms of current legacy Dartmouth student’s grandparents.

The menu, which includes hearty but simple fare like pasta, grinders and “healthy Greek salads” hasn’t changed much in nearly half a century.

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A few years ago C & A’s added poppers, mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings as sides but for the most part it is still using the same recipes — which Georgakopoulos won’t divulge — to make their dough and tomato sauce.

To be clear: C & A’s is not an Italian restaurant. Georgakopoulos makes Greek-style pizza, which she explains is prepared in a metal pan, placed in the fridge and then cooked in the pan in the oven.

The result is a firm, toasted crust around the pie’s perimeter, unlike the frequently soft, doughy crusts in Italian pizza.

At C & A’s peak, they could turn out as many as 100 pizzas per day. Through the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s when there were few late-night food options for hungry Dartmouth students, C & A’s employed two shifts of delivery drivers who would running pizzas to dorm rooms until 1 a.m.

But the numbers have been steadily falling for years.

Today, Georgakopoulos, her daughter and Carr prepare 30 large pizzas and 15 small pizzas in the kitchen each morning for the day ahead. The workday begins at 10 a.m., an hour before opening, at 11 a.m.; everyone is on their feet until closing at 8 p.m. (and as much as another hour for cleaning up).

Georgakopoulos and her former husband, Periklis “Perry” Papadoliopoulos — the couple divorced last year — cut back the last deliveries to 11 p.m. (midnight on Fridays and Saturdays) before eliminating them altogether when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In recent years C & A’s has been closing at 8 p.m.

Hanover has changed from when Georgakopoulos, who was born in Massachusetts but whose family moved to Greece when she was 10 years old, would come back to visit her cousins here — her parents owned C & A’s for a time in partnership with her aunt and uncle. A proliferation in dining options, including two rival pizza places, has made it harder for her family’s tiny storefront business, Georgakopoulos reflected.

It was in Greece where Georgakopoulos met Perry Papadoliopoulos. They married in 1990, when Georgakopoulos was 20, and decided to move back to the states to work at the family’s pizza business in Hanover in 1991.

Although by that time Georgakopoulos had lived half her life in Greece, she wanted to return to the American town where she remembered fondly spending summers with her cousins, she said.

The Georgakopoulos family earlier had lived above the store and it was there, too, that Elaine and Perry moved in and raised their own family, which eventually grew to three children: daughters Soula, 30 and Aphrodite, 28, and a son, George, who died at age 20 in 2013 after collapsing while playing intramural basketball at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass., where he was studying biomedical engineering.

“I love this community. It was a perfect place to raise a family,” Georgakopoulos reflected this week while taking an early afternoon break from work.

In an age of ordering pizza through a phone app and meals delivered via DoorDash, C & A’s has been stubbornly “old school,” Georgakopoulos says unabashedly, adding that it was only since the COVID-19 pandemic that she signed up with the phone app SnackPass.

“Call and give me your order and I’ll make it,” Georgakopoulos says of the way she prefers. “But it’s not like that now. Everything’s online.”

She said she resisted technological change for as long as possible.

“I have a hard time emailing people,” she explained.

Her daughter, Soula, acknowledges that the old-fashioned, corner pizza parlor that has been firmly set in its ways has probably cost them business.

“We’re not really technology based so they don’t really notice us,” Soula said of Dartmouth students today.

“But the ones that do come in, they are, like, ‘Oh my gosh, we love you guys!’ ” Soula related.

Deliveries stopped after Georgakopoulos divorced as there was one less person to work in the store.

Soula, who like her siblings all attended Hanover schools, lives above the store with her mom and her 9-year-old son, Tyler, who can frequently be seen behind the counter with his mother and grandmother.

Soula said, however, she has no desire to be the third generation to run C & A’s.

“I know how much running a business takes away from your life and family,” she said.

As for selling C & A’s to someone who might enjoy running their own pizza business, Georgakopoulos says that was too emotionally wrenching to contemplate.

C & A’s “has been in our family forever. I just wanted it to stay with the family,” she explained.

Georgakopoulos said she first began thinking of retiring when she and her former husband were hit with a massive tax increase following the reappraisal of their Lebanon Street property when the town boosted its assessment to $1.62 million from $942,200 in 2019.

They hired a lawyer to fight the reappraisal and today Hanover town property records show the three-floor, two apartment building is assessed at $1.1 million (property records show the couple paid $73,000 for the building in 1993, an eye-popping example of how much property values in Hanover have outpaced overall inflation).

“When the taxes went up is when I began thinking” about selling the building and retiring, Georgakopoulos said.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic swept in on the heels of the reappraisal fight, leading her to close indoor dining for three years — Georgakopoulos said she stayed closed voluntarily for so long as a precautionary measure — while customers were handed pizzas at the door when they pulled up to the curb outside.

Georgakopoulos’ said the building, which she had listed for sale on-and-off in recent years, is currently “under contract” to be sold, although she declines to identify the buyer other than to hint it is a local business person.

Now, after 33 years of working and living above the store, Georgakopoulos said she wants to take a year off to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren.

She is looking forward to making her first trip in three years back to Greece — Georgakopoulos is fluent in Greek and her daughter Soula is proficient in the language — to visit her extended family.

But she doesn’t plan on moving far.

“We’ll look for a place in the area to live and I’ll look for a part-time job but I don’t know what that will be,” Georgakopoulos said.

Whatever it will be, Georgakopoulos offered, she has only one requirement.

“Something easier,” she said.

 Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.