Co-owner & Operator, Mandolin Aegean Bistro, and Mrs. Mandolin
Anastasia Koutsioukis is the co-owner and operator of South Florida’s Mandolin Aegean Bistro and Mrs. Mandolin, a café and lifestyle store.
The best career advice I’ve ever received is to just go for it. Stop comparing yourself to what others are doing and focus on what you want to do.
One thing I wish I had known when I began my career is don’t sweat the small stuff. I wish I had asked for help more often—I would have avoided many stressful moments.
The book that has had the biggest impact on me is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. It helped me to understand the power of having a strong female tribe. It also taught me the importance of keeping traditions, and learning from the generations before us and passing on the teachings learned.
My first job was working in a clothing store in a mall in a suburb of Toronto. I learned the importance of service and genuine hospitality and how this can be applied to any industry. Everything is about relationships and the impressions we leave on people, so remember to be kind and honest.
The woman who changed my life is my grandmother, Maria. She is the most graceful and elegant woman I know, yet she has lived through so many different hardships and is a survivor. The most important lesson she ever taught me is that we can do anything we put our minds to. She is the one who taught me how to cook, garden, use my instincts, and be a gracious host. In fact, I followed in her footsteps, as she also owned a restaurant with my grandfather when they immigrated to the U.S.
I tap into creativity and inspiration in my everyday life. Whether opening the fridge andmaking a meal, traveling to another country and absorbing the architecture and culture, heading to a market where I find an artisanal piece or fresh ingredient, or just simply being around nature—these things somehow find their way into my work and world.
The biggest challenge that women entrepreneurs face is finding balance and making sure to find time for yourself.
I unwind by going for a drive with my hubby. Or having a date night—early dinner, a nice glass of wine or just chilling out at home. I also enjoy flipping through a good décor magazine or cuddling with my four-year-old son, Alex—there is nothing better than that.
Before opening a restaurant, you must really love people. This is a communal business. You’re constantly surrounded by the energy of others and to be successful you must be present, physically and mentally, and be prepared to share your love and your heart with others.
I was drawn to working in the hospitality industry because growing up, our home was always open to guests. We showed love through an abundance of food and sharing with others. I think it has always been a part of me, but I didn’t realize immediately. Looking back at my entire career path, although I didn’t always work in the hospitality business, the jobs were deeply rooted in the business of people.