In 1976, George and Janet Stamboules came to Auburn and opened George’s Pizza on Center Street. 

Sounds so simple, right? 

It wasn’t THAT simple — George Stamboules Jr., who bought the business from his father in 2010, shares a little bit of the history that led to this area’s favorite pizza joint. 

It begins with George Stamboules Sr. as a young man trying to find his place in the world. 

“He grew up in Greece and worked on merchant ships as there was no opportunity in the village,” George Jr. explains. “At one point he worked 72 hours without a break because everybody else had jumped ship and finally, he did too, in Rhode Island. . . .

“I guess my dad connected with some others that had left ships. They slept in the basement of pizza shops for a period of time till they were able to find other arrangements. . . . He did some landscaping jobs and started to work in pizza shops.

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“My mother (in her late teens) was taking college classes and working part time in a place called Town Pizza in Kingston, Rhode Island, and at some point, my dad began work there And that’s how they met,” says George Jr.

“He and my mother worked 70 hours a week for minimum wage for a handful of years til they could afford to start their own place with a small loan from my great-grandparents of $5,000.” 

Janet Stamboules chipped away at the loan by sending regular payments back home. She never missed a single payment, according to George Jr. 

Over time, the couple brought their family up to Maine. This was in a time before the Auburn Mall had been built so that section of the city was not yet a thriving business district. Getting a business started on Center Street was not an easy affair. 

“My parents worked basically all day every day and I literally grew up in the store,” says George Jr. “We would go to Goodwin’s and regularly get dinner at night at 11 p.m. or midnight. My dad, and later on myself, worked hours like that for years on end.   

A Greek pizza is pulled from the oven Wednesday by General Manager Tom LaRose at George’s Pizza at 563 Center St. in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The family would work those long hours in a building full of ovens and without air conditioning. Sometimes the temperature would get up to 115 degrees in the kitchen. 

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George Jr.’s first job was delivering the Sun Journal at 11 years old. He made roughly $20 a week slinging newspapers. He then went on to sort bottles at the wine and cheese shed that is now George’s Pizza’s dining room. For that, he was paid $1 an hour. 

“When I was 13, I started working for my parents for $3.50 per hour,” George Jr. says. “My dad could not read or write English so I would answer the phone for him or rewrite the tickets in English that he had written in Greek. I would also do his errands with him and go to the bank and fill out all of his paperwork at City Hall, the Department of Motor Vehicles, make phone calls for him….” 

George’s Pizza went on to become the most popular place for pie in the area. In 1992, the business won the first ever “Taste Of L/A Pizza Challenge” and went on to win it every year the contest was held. 

George and Janet Stamboules are still alive and well, according to their son.

The day-to-day operation at George’s is handled by General Manager Tom LaRose. 

According to George Jr., consistency and great employees remain the secret to their success. 

“I think it starts with the thousands of great hard-working people we’ve been fortunate to employ over the years,” he says. “Myself and my family have been very fortunate in that regard. Without them, we could not turn out the consistent product our customers expect.” 

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