Remembering George Giannaris: Owner of Maverick restaurant who realized ’the American dream’

George Apostolos Giannaris, of Lemoyne, was a well known restauranteur in Harrisburg, having operated the

George Apostolos Giannaris, of Lemoyne, was a well known restauranteur in Harrisburg, having operated the Coronet and Maverick restaurants.

Giannaris, 88, died peacefully in his sleep on Aug. 20.

Giannaris, who immigrated from his native Greece to the United States in 1951, survived World War II and the Greek Civil War. When he arrived in Harrisburg, he took over the Belmont Restaurant on Chestnut Street. He later went on to open the Coronet Restaurant on Second Street with his younger brother, Konstantine “Gus” Giannaris in 1967 and bought the Maverick Restaurant in 1974.

At the Maverick, Giannaris brought in fresh roses from his garden, purchased local produce, meats and seafood and embraced the ‘farm to table’ concept before it was in vogue. Gourmet magazine requested one of his recipes.

The Maverick was known for attracting movers and shakers from the state Capitol. Many would joke that state legislators and state workers were “in session” at the Maverick when not working at the Capitol.

His family said, “George wanted your experience to be personal, enjoyable and memorable. He and his staff made Maverick Restaurant the place to be.”

“A beloved restaurateur, husband, father, brother and friend, George was a consummate gentleman, a gracious host, most known for his kind and generous nature, warm hospitality and sense of humor. George loved people and people loved him. He loved his family, community, church and Greek Heritage. He loved being a grandfather and his grandchildren adored him.”

George was married to Christina Paraskevopoulos, who passed away April 10, 2018. They celebrated 62 years of marriage, raising their family, traveling, enjoying friends and working long hours “realizing the American Dream.”

He was a member of the AHEPA, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Wormleysburg and the Neohoriton Society. He was very involved in the church’s annual Greek Festival from its inception.

After retiring from the restaurant business, George spent his winters in Jupiter, Florida with Christine.

In addition to his wife, he is predeceased by a son, Paul Giannaris, and brother, Nicholas Giannaris. He is survived by daughters, Maria (Mark) Gregory and Tina (Thomas) O’Malley; daughter-in-law, Stavroula Giannaris; grandchildren, Christina and Alexandra Thalassinos, Maxwell, Benjamin and Sophia Gregory, Georgios and Angelos Giannaris; great-granddaughter, Ava; sister, Anastasia Daskalakis of Greece, brother, Konstantine Giannaris and wife Tina; sister-in-law, Fotini Giannaris; and many nieces and nephews.

A viewing will be held 10-11 a.m. Aug. 25 at Holy Trinity Greek Cathedral, 1000 Yverdon Drive in Worlmeysburg. Due to the pandemic crises, a service and burial will be private.

From his guest book:

  • “I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a wonderful gentleman. He was a phenomenal person.”

— Vincent J. Fumo

  • “My deepest sympathy to the Giannaris family. George was the sweetest, nicest person. We often ate at the Coronet and the Maverick, and we held my mother’s 70th birthday party at the Maverick in 1987!May George’s memory be a blessing for you always.”

— Cynthia Melman

  • Maria, so sorry for the loss of your father. George was an exceptional person. He had a real flair for the restaurant business. Will always remember his bananas foster! God bless your family.

— Sally Stilli

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