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Expanding right along with Rosemount

TOPS Pizza and Hoagies has been owned by the Chouliaris family since 1990. Markos is planning to hand over the reigns to son Steve in the years to come.

As a business, sometimes it pays to reinvent. At least that's what the owners of TOPS Pizza and Hoagies: The Original Philadelphia Style are hoping for.

The small, family-owned restaurant is expanding its current location, at 14531 Dodd Blvd., by 2,000 sq. ft. and will add a full service bar.

Owner Markos Chouliaris said they hope to have the new area open before the New Year starts.

Markos and Soula Chouliaris opened TOPS in 1990. At the time, fewer than 3,000 people lived in town. As the town grew, so did TOPS.

"We grew together," said Markos.

Markos, who immigrated from Greece, worked in a pizza restaurant in Philadelphia with his uncle. Later he took a job as an executive chef for a Marriott Hotel. After working there for a while, Markos decided to open his own restaurant.

He liked Minnesota and wanted his kids in District 196 schools, so they chose to open in Rosemount.

According to the restaurant's web site the first day open, they didn't sell a thing. Markos decided that if nothing was sold the next day he'd close up shop and move on. At the end of the second day a man came in and bought a soda, solidifying the restaurant's fate. They've been open ever since.

The restaurant started with a short menu. They sold pizza and hoagies. Then, in the early 1990s, they expanded the kitchen and added to the menu. TOPS now boasts a diverse menu that includes pizza, hoagies, gyros, pastas, salads and more.

"We're not just a pizza place," said Markos.

With the new expansion the restaurant will broaden its menu even more. Markos said they will have daily special and will offer brunch Saturdays and Sundays.

With that in mind Markos said they decided it was time to add on further. More seating will accommodate more customers and a full bar will add to the restaurant's selection of spirits. Currently, TOPS sells wine and beer.

Additionally the restaurant will open seven days a week. To ensure quality service Markos said they will hire 10 to 15 people.

Having run the business for nearly 21 years, Markos said he feels it's time to start handing over the restaurant. All along the couple raised their two children in the business in hopes one might want to take over some day. Their son Steve and his wife, Joelle, have stepped up.

Steve has a degree in engineering, but he found the corporate world wasn't for him. Excited to take on the restaurant, Steve said the expansion will help the business grow.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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