21 Aug 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by flexmoney86
Patch Instagram photo by rnblove1
Patch Instagram photo by rnblove1

For Some, Business Success Means Reinvention

After several years in the real estate business, a former buyer's agent finds new success in another industry.

REYNOLDSTOWN — Success in business means adapting.

It means change.

And sometimes it means reinventing yourself.

That's what Johnny Gianoulidis, owner of the Parkgrounds Café, a coffee, breakfast and sandwich shop that caters to java lovers and their dogs.

Gianoulidis, 48, spent five years in the real estate business, three of which were great. But the last two years weren't.

A buyer's agent, meaning he represented those looking to purchase homes, he saw business trickle as the Great Recession, which began in 2007, wreaked its havoc on the economy.

A native New Englander, he could have gone into the lucrative side of real estate and represent the banks in foreclosures and short sales, which were aplenty.

But Gianoulidis, who will soon open Palookaville, a 1950s-themed restaurant in Avondale Estates, is a people person and that side of real estate didn't appeal to him.

So about two years ago, when he took ownership of Parkgrounds, he looked at it as an opportunity to change and reinvent himself professionally.

"I went into the restaurant business because I grew up in it," he said, noting his parents opened a pizzeria in Connecticut after emigrating to New England from their native Greece.

Gianoulidis isn't alone in his experience, of course.

The economy has forced scores of workers to reinvent themselves as the result of layoffs, buyouts or radical shifts in employment needs in their industries.

And reinvention doesn't simply mean coming up with a good idea or going back to doing something you enjoy or are good at.

It means hard work, focus and commitment, Gianoulidis said.

Parkgrounds wasn't his first venture post-real estate. He had opened a pizzeria at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in Old Fourth Ward but it didn't last, for a number of reasons. He learned from that experience to help with Parkgrounds.

"You have to stay focused," he said. "Too many people think an idea will translate into success. That's just not the case. It takes a lot of work."

Gianoulidis sat down with East Atlanta Patch recently to talk about reinvention and what it takes to make that transition.

Please watch the video to hear portions of our interview.

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