From TV Waves to Culinary Waves: Georgia Dumas' Lefkes Revolutionizes the Greek Dining Scene

Georgia Dumas Photo by Koray Kasap Georgia Dumas Photo by Koray Kasap

"In the picturesque town of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, lies Lefkes—a culinary haven that has captivated gastronomy enthusiasts since its inception in 2018. The brainchild of Georgia Dumas, a visionary entrepreneur who once brought international television channels to the American audience, Lefkes stands tall as a testament to her passion and ingenuity. Immersed in the captivating narrative of her life, Dumas who ventured into the realm of American broadcasting, set out to create an experience like no other. With a magnetic charm and unwavering determination, she transformed the restaurant which has changed hands numerous times, into a renowned destination where delectable flavors and warm hospitality dance in perfect harmony.

Lefkes, a marvel spanning the dimensions of three restaurants, unveils its grandeur through an intricately designed interior, a spacious second floor, an inviting terrace, and a lush garden—a veritable culinary empire boasting four distinct bars and a seating capacity of 426, akin to a finely tuned gastronomic factory. Behind the scenes, a devoted team of 102 individuals orchestrates the daily symphony of flavors and service, with Dumas personally handpicking a sushi chef who traveled all the way from Japan after ten months of negotiations.

It is a destination, where every customer is embraced without regard to their origins, occupations, or appearances. Dumas proudly states, 'I think part of our success here is that we welcome everyone. We don't care where you're from. We don't care what you do. We don't care what you look like. You're just welcome to our place.'

At Lefkes, culinary delights know no borders. Sushi, an unexpected star on the menu, mingles with traditional Greek delicacies, captivating the palates of NBA and NFL players, New Jersey Housewives stars, and even luminaries from esteemed companies like Ferrari, CNBC, and LG. With its four bars, an exquisite terrace, and a charming garden, Lefkes embodies the spirit of a Greek island, inviting guests to savor an extraordinary experience. As the sun sets on the horizon, the DJ's enchanting melodies, encompassing everything from Tarkan, Turkish pop star to eclectic international tunes, transform Lefkes into one of New Jersey's hottest nightlife spots. The captivating melodies of the DJ, emanating from the turntables, beckon guests to dance

The indomitable spirit of Lefkes extends beyond its physical boundaries, transcending the limitations of a mere dining establishment. With a visionary outlook, she aims to weave Lefkes' magic across America. Delray, Florida, awaits the grand opening of a new Lefkes, where guests will be enchanted by Mediterranean flavors in a fusion of Greek cuisine.

While the realm of gastronomy has long been dominated by male figures, Georgia Dumas stands as a shining example of female entrepreneurship. With each step she takes, she defies stereotypes, navigating uncharted waters, and blazing a trail for aspiring women in the restaurant industry. Despite occasional inquiries about her "missing" husband, Dumas proudly leads the charge, basking in her achievements and proving that passion knows no gender boundaries.

Dumas, with her indomitable spirit, dares to blur the lines between cultures and cuisines, weaving together the threads of Greek tradition and global fusion. As the restaurant's patrons indulge in mouthwatering sushi, a tantalizing testament to Lefkes' unique allure, they find themselves embarking on a culinary odyssey that transcends borders and kindles the flames of cross-cultural camaraderie. The age-old question of whether baklava is Turkish or Greek finds solace in Dumas' infectious laughter, for she is a firm believer that it originated in Turkey and made its way to Greece, embracing the harmonious interplay of two nations' culinary legacies.
Every week, there are potential buyers for the restaurant, but the primary goal is to turn it into a chain. Dumas, who turned Lefkes into a brand in New Jersey within a total of 5 years, with 2 years being during the pandemic, answers the question about his secret with an artistic touch: "Well, besides giving tasty food and good service, we just take care of our customers. You must love your customers. You must give them the extra smile. This is the destination. It's not like a touristic area like New York. The tourists come and go. This one you need to work harder. It is a destination; they just come here; they choose to come here. It's not like they walk around and they walk into a restaurant."

Her journey from Kavala to the United States weaves a tale of love and determination. As a young girl, she embarked on a life-changing journey, leaving her birthplace to embrace a new world in Wayne, New Jersey, alongside her beloved Joe, an American engineer.

Dumas was born in Kavala, Greece. She met the American engineer Joe, who worked at Schlumberger one of the largest oilfield technology companies as a petroleum engineer. Kavala is known for its oil refineries and as such has long attracted engineers and their families from around the world, making Kavala a multicultural global hub. Kavala is full of restaurants from every corner of the world, which exposed Dumas to a vast array of cuisines from a young age.

She was the apple of his parent’s eye, the eldest daughter. Her father, who had a military background, initially objected to his daughter getting married and going to America. She even received a punishment of staying in her room for a month. However, her father passed away that year. Joe returned to Greece and asked for Georgia's hand in marriage from her mother. Georgia, at the age of 14, left Kavala. They settled in Wayne, NJ, where her husband's family lived.

During university, she worked in various jobs ranging from babysitting to waitressing, in addition to the art department in college. She received education in economics and finance at NYU. She got acquainted with television broadcasting during her university years. In 1996, she crossed paths with a company in the US that had its own uplink center. The owner of the company was also from Kavala. They were working for NBC. They said that a Greek television channel wanted to broadcast to America. They asked, "Would you like to work with them?" Dumas gladly accepted, but she found the field of broadcasting appealing. She started her job by making phone calls to acquire customers, and eventually rose to the position of manager and later bought the company. She became the person who introduced Greek television channels to the US. In 2011, she met a Pakistani entrepreneur. They joined forces and became partners. They brought television channels from different countries to the American market. As the alternatives in the digital world diversified and IPTVs became more widespread, their business suffered setbacks. The company is currently fighting against unfair competition with changing market conditions. They are trying to protect their business by filing lawsuits against pirate broadcasters along with major TV platforms.

Apart from restaurants and broadcasting, Dumas is actively involved in real estate investments. She believes that the restaurant industry will continue to be a challenging industry. She says she wouldn't advise someone who wants to enter this business. Although Turkish cuisine is not yet as widely known in the U.S. as Chinese, Italian, Thai, or Greek cuisine, she believes that Turkish cuisine will also be recognized by broad masses in the near future. "Greeks came to America very early. In the 1800s. Italians did too. The close relationship between the recognition of these two cuisines and time is evident. Turkish cuisine will also be recognized soon," she says.

Last modified onMonday, 14 August 2023 00:11