Family matters: The Singing Chef thrives through 2023 and beyond

As many restaurants are still struggling with the lasting effects of the pandemic, The Singing Chef (in London, ON) continues to serve breakfast and lunch with a smile. Named for its owner, Nicko Patsalis, who is always singing in the kitchen, the restaurant continues to flourish, expanding into a second location later this year.

Nicole and Nicko Patsalis

Growing up in the restaurant business, Patsalis is a second-generation operator and knows very well how much work it takes to make the business successful. However, like many restaurants, he didn’t have a roadmap for a global pandemic. They say it takes a village, and Patsalis couldn’t agree more as he recalls the support from his community during COVID. Patsalis and his team thrived through the pandemic by not only shifting to an online and take-out model but by adding dinner as a way to raise revenues through the slowest periods.

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The community has been super supportive along the way, helping out all their local businesses through the tougher times over the last few years, including The Singing Chef. Locals worked hard to spread their business around, giving as much as possible and shining a light on small businesses and their place as the heart of the community.

That community feeling exists within the walls of the restaurant, too. Patsalis has experienced very little turnover, creating an environment where most of his staff have stuck with him through the last few years. “It’s like a family here, and that family feeling extends from our team to the people we serve.” Patsalis works alongside his staff to help build those relationships and the business, allowing them to take charge and accept responsibility whenever they can. Encouraging them to come up with ideas, try new things, and suggest improvements is how he has maintained strong staff relationships.

Seizing an exciting post-pandemic opportunity, Patsalis jumped at the chance to expand with a second restaurant. Located just outside the City of London, the restaurant will double its current size, allowing them to better connect with diners who have been traveling to their London location. “The residents are so excited to have us there, and they cannot wait for us to open. We could not ask for more support!”

Sticking to his successful business model, Patsalis is going with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach as he maintains the balance needed to run the restaurant while spending valuable time with his family. “Honestly, it’s my passion. I am just so happy to see customers smiling and happy from the food they’re eating.” And with his wife and parents also involved in the restaurant’s day-to-day, it’s a real family affair.

Industry relationships have been a part of the restaurant’s success, too, and Patsalis names Flanagan Foodservice as a valued partner. As a customer since 1995 (when his parents were running their restaurants), he cannot rave enough about their relationships, calling them “above and beyond.” He values the devoted service, the feedback, and the strategies they bring to today’s inflation struggles in an effort to help operators get ahead. “They are just like family,” from the personal connection to the service they consistently provide.

From the community to staff to suppliers, The Singing Chef continues to forge ahead into a bright and successful future.