Block party to celebrate Village Pizza’s 60th anniversary

  • Betty Gioules and Chris Balis flank their father, George Balis, inside the Bank Row restaurant, which is celebrating 60 years in business. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Petroula Balis assembles a pizza at Village Pizza in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • George Balis, 22, who is organizing a block party on Sunday, July 11, on the Greenfield Common, said the event is as much a celebration of Village Pizza’s accomplishment of reaching 60 years in business, as it is a celebration of the community that has supported the business for so long. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • George Balis works the counter, Betty Gioules makes a sub and Chris Balis takes roasting onions and peppers out of the oven at Village Pizza in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The crew at Village Pizza. From left, George Gioules, Betty Gioules, George Balis, Petroula Balis and Chris Balis outside the Bank Row restaurant, which is celebrating 60 years in business. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • George Balis talks with customers Ed Harris and Terri Cairns who drive from Keene, N.H., to eat at Village Pizza in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The crew at Village Pizza. From left, George Gioules, Betty Gioules, George Balis, Petroula Balis and Chris Balis outside the Bank Row restaurant, which is celebrating 60 years in business. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2021 7:02:16 PM

GREENFIELD — Sixty years after Village Pizza opened its doors for the first time on Bank Row, the family behind it wishes to thank the community that made it possible.

“It feels good,” said George Balis, son of Chris Balis, who co-owns the pizzeria with his sister, Betty Gioules. “It feels like an accomplishment.”

George Balis, 22, who is organizing a block party on Sunday, July 11, from 4 to 9 p.m. on the Greenfield Common, said the event is as much a celebration of their own accomplishment of reaching 60 years in business, as it is a celebration of the community that has supported them.

“That’s exactly what I wanted,” he said. “It’s not just Greenfield supporting us, it’s us supporting Greenfield; it’s including all the other businesses around Greenfield.”

There will be music by disc jockey Robert “Bobby C” Campbell, and food, beer and soft drinks from dozens of local eateries, including Main Street Bar & Grille, Brad’s Place, Ice Cream Alley, Adam’s Donuts, Berkshire Brewing Co. and, of course, Village Pizza, among others. A portion of proceeds will go to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“We wanted to choose a charity that would make sense to donate profits to from the event, so we chose (the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts) because we’re a restaurant,” Balis said.

Profits will also benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children, he added.

Balis explained how his grandfather, also named George Balis, arrived from Greece to the United States in the 1960s. He worked for almost a decade before buying the pizza place at 42 Bank Row in 1974. Two years later, his wife and three children — Betty, John and Chris — joined him in Franklin County.

After about 15 years running the business, his grandfather passed the business down to his three children.

“Everything we have has come from the business,” Balis said. “If it wasn’t for Village, I don’t even think we’d be in America. That’s why this feels like an accomplishment.”

The business has been a decades-long family affair, Balis said, recalling how he spent his early years folding boxes in a corner of the restaurant.

“I’ve been helping my parents since I was a little kid,” he said.

Along with pizza, the restaurant offers mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings and salad, among other offerings on the menu. A few years ago, the business overhauled and remodeled its seating area, adding televisions and sprucing things up.

Balis said 60 years in business is a testament to the idea that hard work pays off.

Again, he said, “we just want to thank the community.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the restaurant’s service options. Currently, the restaurant is open for takeout and indoor dining.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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