Dean Maroudas’ father immigrated to Chicago with his siblings. After spending some time in Chicago, the Maroudases came to Utah where Mr. Maroudas began working for another Greek family at Ajax Presses fashioning dry cleaning presses. When Ajax Presses decided to relocate to Chicago, the Maroudases chose to stay in Utah and open a dinner-night club. Food is “always the Greek default . . . we know how to cook.” The Katzourakis, friends of the Maroudases, opened Crown Burger in 1978. Dean eventually began working at Crown Burger as a dishwasher and is now the acting manager. He later married the Katzourakis’ daughter.
Years before Crown Burger opened its doors, John Katzourakis worked at Ajax Presses with Dean’s father. Ajax’s relocation to Chicago put John and his family out of work, as it had the Maroudases. Some of John’s siblings went to work for Bingham Canyon’s copper mine or the railroad, while John and his wife, Rula, moved to California so John could work at a machining company. During their time at the machining company, he and Rula decided to open Crown Burger.
After their pastrami burger failed to sell in California, the couple moved back to Utah. In 1978, they found a hotdog stand on the corner of 377 East and 200 South in Salt Lake City. With the help of Rula’s brother, Nic, they purchased the hotdog stand and started Crown Burger. Unlike the response in California, Utah went “gang-busters” for the pastrami burger. After six months, the Katzourakis purchased a gas station on the lot behind the hot dog stand. As Crown Burger’s popularity grew, the store expanded. There are now seven Crown Burger locations across Utah.
Greek immigrants in Chicago sold hot dogs, tamales, and other items from food carts in highly industrialized areas. The Crown Burger menu offers a similar diversity – burgers, burritos, fish and chips, and the classic Greek gyro. The community and the customers are most important to Dean and the rest of the Crown Burger family, so what the community loves to eat is what they perfect. “We don’t have [the] vision to say, ‘let’s conquer the world with this,’” Dean said, “We just really like what we are doing. We like the community. . . .We know people’s names. Probably the best way I can put it is we are not entrepreneurs, we are restaurateurs.”
The Greek word philoxenia roughly describes an inclusive friendship, even to strangers, that obligates you to care for their needs. This is the philosophy of Crown Burger, and it is the same philosophy that keeps the Greek community so inclusive and tight-knit today.