By Robin Laroche
“When my wife and I first started dating, we took our first weekend getaway to the Santa Ynez Valley,” Demetrios “Jimmy” Loizides recalled. “We went to dinner at Grappolo’s and after we walked over to the Maverick.”
He smiled and added, “I looked at that bar and said, Babe — I want to own this place someday.”
Fast-forward 12 years. In November, Loizides and his wife Karen will hold the keys as the new owners of The Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez.
Many fans have wondered what the couple will do with it, fearing major changes.
“I don’t want to do anything to change the integrity of what The Maverick Saloon is. It is an icon in the Santa Ynez Valley. I just want to improve it,” he said.
One of the first things on the agenda is to renovate the bathrooms.
“They need it desperately,” she added.
Loizides also said he’d like to put a couple of big-screen TVs for Sunday NFL games as well as Monday Night Football. They also have ideas about a new sound system, cleaning up the floors, and eventually serving small bites at the bar and on the patio.
“It is really just some cosmetic changes,” Karen Loizides said.
The husband and wife team not only have a track record for successful business, but they have a great story of achieving their dreams.
Loizides is no stranger to owning and operating bars and restaurants. In his youth he worked in restaurants in Long Beach, and it became very clear to him that he wanted to own his own restaurants and bar.
Growing up in Zimbabwe after his parents took the family from Cypress to a British colony there, Loizides learned what it was like to live off the land and cook with what their farm produced. He also would collect eggs from their chickens and sell them from his farm stand. By the time his family relocated to Long Beach when he was 14, he understood hard work and dedication along with the value of the dollar.
In the 1980s, Loizides’ passion for being a restaurateur grew even more.
“I was the general manager of The Red Onion, which is quite a big chain bar and restaurant in Southern California,” he said. “I was always looking for ways to bring people in.”
On Dec. 17, 1999, Loizides opened George’s Greek Café on Pine Avenue in Long Beach. Six years later, enter Karen Hunter. At that time George’s Greek had opened an additional three restaurants and Loizides hired Hunter as his banquet and catering manager. A year later, she was operations manager off all four locations of George’s Greek Café.
“We grew the original location from 80 seats to 425 seats,” Karen said with a smile. Ten years ago, Karen Hunter became Karen Loizides, and shortly thereafter the two moved to the Santa Ynez Valley to start their family.
With the purchase of a micro farm in Santa Ynez, the Loizides decided to embark on new adventures. They started K’Syrah Catering and Events in Solvang in 2016, with a focus on a farm-to-table menu and family-style service. They try to source as much as they can from their farm and many local farmers.
As the business began building, Loizides hired Executive Chef Brooke Stockwell to take the reins of his catering company.
As he was freeing himself from spending time in the kitchen, Loizides heard that The Maverick was for sale.
“When I heard it might close I thought, “This is it, we can do this. People love The Mav — locals, tourists — We would never take that away,” he said.
Coming from a small town himself, both Loizides and his wife feel a strong bond and connection with the Santa Ynez community.
Valley native Logan Livermore has been appointed the Maverick’s general manager.
“The Maverick is truly one of the last remaining honky-tonks, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I plan on operating with authenticity and honoring its legacy and country roots for years to come,” Livermore said.