Longstanding Rodley eatery, The Olive Tree, has closed its doors after 29 years - as part of a ‘restaurant swap’ with another family enterprise.
Husband and wife restaurateurs George and Vasoulla Psarias have given the keys to their Victorian stone-built venue to son Solos, to expand his Italian restaurant chain Georgio’s.
Solos was on the hunt for a second venue after the success of his Headingley branch, which opened in 2010, and his parents stepped into help - although they admit with mixed emotions.
George told the YEP: “It’s a bit sad but also exciting. We’ve been here for so long, it has sentimental value. But we have a balance - we still have two Olive Trees (in Headingley and Chapel Allerton) and now two Georgio’s.”
When the Olive Tree first opened its doors in Rodley in 1986, there was only a handful of other restaurants in Leeds. That same year it won the Yorkshire Evening Post’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ award - in what was the first of many accolades.
George said: “It’s down to the customers - especially our regular customers - keeping us going for 29 years. We’re so grateful to them for supporting us.”
Georgio’s restaurant chain is also a family affair - with George and Vasoulla heavily involved - and the Rodley branch has now been open two weeks.
George said: “We’ve had a good reaction from people. Hopefully we’ll get some new faces as well to add to our existing customers. We’re very excited.”
Solos, 33, said the building has been given a “new lease of life,” adding: “Georgio’s is a great success story in Headingley, so we thought we’d open one here. People have been quite open to trying it because it’s the same ownership. It’s been a great success so far.”
He said one of the many reasons for the move was the Rodley venue can host a lot of weddings and large parties.
“It’s a beautiful, listed building which is unique. It has a lot of history, with gardens, a bar area and private function rooms. Now being an Italian restaurant, we’re drumming up a lot of interest for large parties.”
Georgio’s is open seven days a week. Visit www.giorgiosrestaurant.co.uk.