Their whole lives, siblings Stathi and Loukia Giafis have been immersed in the restaurant industry, first with their grandfather and then with their parents.
But now, it's their time to shine.
Last month, the brother-sister duo opened Little Owl Social Pub, their first restaurant in downtown Brookfield at 3747 Grand Blvd., with the goal of establishing a one-of-a-kind, retro-meets-social gathering spot for people of all ages.
The Giafises, who have fond memories of playing video games and board games growing up, were looking to establish a place with a "chill basement vibe," where older adults could kick back in a funky new spot, younger adults could reminisce with their favorite games of yesteryear, and families and children could come together for a meal and share in a fun experience.
"We wanted to be a chill spot where you can hang out with friends, hang out with family, have a couple of drinks and play some board games," Loukia Giafis said. "We did want it to be family-friendly."
The siblings, who grew up in Lemont, said they started talking about co-owning a business for a few years. Loukia Giafis, who worked in a corporate marketing job, and Stathi Giafis, who managed his parents' breakfast diner in Bloomingdale, said they yearned to spread their wings.
Loukia Giafis has lived in Brookfield for two years and said that after searching around the area for open spots, Brookfield seemed like the best place to open up shop.
"I had driven past here and we saw the 'for rent' sign," she said. "We really liked the location and I live in Brookfield, so it's nice to have everything close to home. The layout of the place was pretty awesome."
While the location was first approved for restaurant and liquor licenses back in July 2017, Loukia said she and her brother spent the entire fall ensuring the place was fully decorated and prepared without any glitches by rushing an opening.
Aside from a few hiccups along the way — including the see-through beer cooler which took eight weeks to get delivered — Loukia said setting up all of the games and furniture and establishing the menu was exciting.
"We wanted to create a fun vibe that wasn't necessarily in the area and also add to Brookfield," she said.
Little Owl is intimate despite also having an industrial loft feel, complete with wooden tables, funky light fixtures, exposed beamed ceilings and brick floors.
The restaurant is split into three levels — an upstairs loft, the main bar level and a basement-style sunken spot with a modern conversation pit twist.
An upstairs wall features a built-in shelving unit adorned with dozens of classic board games, and the lower level includes restored classic arcade games like Centipede, Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat and Pac Man.
While simple, Little Owl's menu plays off of American classics with a fun twist and focuses on craft beers and craft sodas — all of which hail from the Midwest.
Diners can start off with appetizers including fried pickles and fried avocado tacos, enjoy a blueberry tamari green salad, try a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich or savor a burger or Cajun po'boy.
Little Owl prides itself on making as much of its food from scratch as possible, and, along with a few vegetarian options already on the menu, Little Owl will soon be adding some gluten-free items as well.
In just a few weeks' time, the siblings have been happy with how they've been received in the community.
"It's been pretty surprising, the different ranges of people that have come here," Stathi Giafis said. "We were definitely thinking it would be more younger families, but it's definitely expanded from there and it's been great. I think we work well together … and it's honestly just been a lot of fun."
While Little Owl does not deliver, they can accommodate diners for carry-out and are open for taking table reservations for small parties.
The restaurant will also host an official grand opening at 5 p.m. on March 16, where they will release their new cocktail menu, feature some spring specials and have a DJ playing music all evening long.
Little Owl Social Pub is open Monday to Thursday 3 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/littleowlsocialpub.
This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Loukia and Stathi's last name, and to update the hours of operation.