YOUNGSTOWN — The family owned Mocha House recently opened a third restaurant in downtown Youngstown, adding to a mini-empire that has been expanding for nearly three decades.
“When you walk in [to The Mocha House], it’s a whole new world. It’s like a little kid on Christmas — [customers] walk in and we have anything their heart desires,” said Kalli Georgalos, who began managing the new location after she and her parents signed on with Bill and Kitsa Axiotis, Nick and Christa Liakaris and Will and Maria Morris, who all co-own The Mocha Houses in Warren and Boardman.
“It’s fun when you’re working with your family and friends,” said the 24-year-old Georgalos, who worked in the Warren location as a teenager. “It’s nice to have that support and that backbone.”
Though the menus across all the Mocha Houses are similar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Georgalos has been experimenting downtown. As spring approaches, Georgalos said she has Lent specials and is preparing specialty drinks inspired by St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.
“My team and I, every season that changes, we sit down and we figure out what drinks we are running,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just trial and error.”
Georgalos said she’s also hoping to bring live music to the restaurant at dinner time. The desserts — The Mocha House is known for its homemade cakes and pastries — stay the same, however.
“When [customers] see the [dessert] case for the first time ... that’s like when they get all googly eyed and stuff. I really don’t blame them because I still get googly eyed and I’ve worked here for so long,” she said.
The downtown location is walking distance from the Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre , and it's aiming to serve students, downtown employees, residents and visitors.
“The slower times in the beginning, those bumped up dramatically week after week,” Georgalos said.
‘We’re seeing more regulars, and people know us by name,. We know them by name, and it’s kind of like becoming like family. We want people to have an option that is close to them. Some people, it’s right in front of their front door; some of them, it’s right next to their classes; some, it’s right by their job. So we want to make people feel welcome here,” she said.
The original Mocha House location in downtown Warren opened in 1992, and the family eventually decided to expand with a Boardman store. The new Youngstown location has been open since Jan. 20 inside Eastern Gateway Community College’s campus, 120 E Boardman St. Its hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The eatery offers carryout but only delivers to local businesses. It is working to expand delivery and offer Youngstown State University students Pete’s Points in the future.