Niko Kosmidis, right, and his father, Steve Kosmidis, once owned Waterville House of Pizza on Main Street in downtown Waterville before selling it. They have now bought back the restaurant and are reopening it Wednesday. The men are seen Tuesday at the restaurant. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Steve Kosmidis had intended to board a flight this week to Greece. But those travel plans were shelved when Kosmidis, only nine months into his retirement, joined his son Niko in reclaiming ownership of their downtown restaurant.

Their business, Waterville House of Pizza, will reopen under their management on Wednesday, less than a year after they had sold it to another family.

The restaurant has been around for about 40 years, Steve Kosmidis said, and he has operated it since he moved to Waterville in 2008. He said it had become a staple of the downtown dining scene with a loyal customer base. He brought in Niko, 25, to help run things in 2018, around the same time they moved into their current, renovated storefront at 145 Main St.

Their business did well following the move, even after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, they said. With Colby College students living in a dormitory across the street and a robust delivery system, Niko Kosmidis said the restaurant saw a 150% increase in revenue.

Steve Kosmidis and his son Niko Kosmidis owned Waterville House of Pizza for several years before selling it earlier this year. They have now bought back the restaurant and are reopening it Wednesday. The restaurant, seen on Tuesday, is located at 145 Main St. in downtown Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

But his father made the decision in February to retire at 71. The pair handed over the business to another Greek family and the elder Kosmidis spent the next six months in Greece, happy to have hung up his apron.

But when he returned to Waterville he learned that the restaurant was not faring well.


“They changed a majority of everything,” his son said.

The two said they heard from customers that food recipes were altered, the phone wasn’t being answered and that it was struggling with staffing, much like many other businesses.

The staff by fall had dwindled to a handful of people, with just one member of the family that had purchased the business remaining, Soula Markakis.

Waterville House of Pizza owners Niko Kosmidis, 25, left, and father, Steve Kosmidis, 71, confer Tuesday as they prepared to reopen the restaurant Wednesday. Waterville House of Pizza is located at 145 Main St. in downtown Waterville. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“She was getting overwhelmed,” Niko Kosmidis said. “You can’t run this place with three people.”

He said he and his father prefer to have a staff of 10 to 15 employees to handle food prep, in-store orders and deliveries.

Steve Kosmidis said Markakis was working exceedingly long hours. “She’s a good worker, but she can’t do it by herself.”


Markakis acknowledged the long hours she was working from February to November. She said she couldn’t “stand to stay, not even one more day in that store.”

“I lost my money,” she said in a text exchange. “The employees many times they don’t come for work.”

Markakis also said some employees were using drugs while on the job.

The Kosmidises decided they were willing to buy back the restaurant and Markakis met with them after Thanksgiving and handed back the keys. The father and son declined to reveal the purchase price.

“I don’t feel good at all,” Steve Kosmidis said of his decision to come out of retirement. “But I’m not going anywhere yet.”

His pride won’t allow him to let the business he built up to deteriorate. He said he will not go back into retirement until it’s back where it was in February, with the trust of his customers restored.

“He’s put his heart and soul into this,” Niko Kosmidis said. He plans to take over the business soon, giving his father the opportunity to retire, again. The younger Kosmidis said at some point he hopes to sell the restaurant once the right opportunity presents itself.

But for now, with approval Monday from a state health inspector to reopen, the focus is on restoring original recipes that customers had come to enjoy.

“I’m excited to give everybody back what they love,” Niko Kosmidis said.

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