Longtime Riverside businessman Bill Paganis was born in Greece, came to America and then returned as a young man to Kalamata, Greece, where he was viewed as somewhat of a rebel. 

His family felt he needed some direction, so he was directed to beauty school. For the young Bill Paganis, it meant a chance to meet girls. It also meant a change of direction in his life. He earned his diploma in beauty culture in Greece and returned to America at the age of 16. He attended the American School of Beauty Culture, receiving his diploma in the states and starting a career that this year marks 50 years. For 37 of those years he has worked at his shop in Riverside.

“That stands for something, and I am glad to be here,” Paganis says.

He believes in Riverside which is why he has invested in the town and has chosen to stay here. While the business has had three different names — Basili’s, Pagani and now Salon Elia — all pay homage credit to his Greek heritage. And through the years, Paganis has not changed his desire to pursue excellence in his shop.

In his 50 years in the business, he has continued to learn and keep up with the business of beauty with a special concentration in color work. He has been called upon to conduct classes and train others in the field of color and has worked for companies supplying those products. He likes to mentor the young stylists who work in his shop, helping them learn their craft and working with customers. 

Paganis says the job is never tiresome for him and he’s also made it quite clear that he has no plans to retire, just maybe taking a little more time for his other passion — golf. 

He is proud of the fact he became a PGA professional and has taught youngsters golf at Fresh Meadows Golf Course. Having achieved much of his dream in his chosen profession, there is one more thing he considers a dream — to coach a high school golf team.

For the young man from Greece and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, Paganis has grown into a man who, after 50 years, can say he has never not looked forward to going to work each day. 

To that, all I can say is, “Oooooopa!