Andreas Georgiou: The founder of Breeze Group talks about his whole life, for the first time!

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Andreas Georgiou, the owner of the entertainment businesses of Breeze Group, does not feel that he is a “man of the night”, no matter how many people in Limassol may associate him with this image and despite the fact that Giorgos Mazonakis has dedicated the homonym Greek hit to him, during one of his performances. In spite of what this image may represent, his own naturally gentle manners are truly impressive. He makes you want to stare a few minutes and try to break the code of the riddle-man across from you. There is no code to break. You just stop trying after a while, as you realize how straight-forward and clear he is in all of his encounters.

He is a man of an unclear age. You cannot tell how old he is from one look and this is not something that occurs lately, due to his modern outfits and groomed looks. Andreas Georgiou was merely 20 years old, when he had to drive one of his father’s taxis, and the passengers did feel quite uncomfortable, since they figured that they were letting their lives on the hands of an underage driver.

He never studied (even though he had both the potential and the inclination for architecture – which is still some kind of a hobby that he  brings on the table, when he designs a new venue). His talents sure were many (he stood out from early on at school for his artistic skills and he even considered becoming a designer, a guitarist or a hairdresser when he was little), but his dream to become a successful entrepreneur was a decisive one for the course he was about to follow. He made a conscious decision to pursue a career in entertainment businesses from early on, because he had plans to implement and goals to achieve and he could not wait. Of course, his beliefs and the way he expresses them, make you feel that he may have 2 – 3 bachelor and just as many master’s degrees already.

Sure, when one’s eyes have such a sparkle, there must be evolution and progress in all of their attempts, with or without degrees, and this definitely applies in his case. Just like with his business success, his looks, words and behaviour in his everyday life, were no accident or just a matter of coincidence.

Andreas Georgiou, with more than 30 years of experience in Limassol's nightlife, never stops experimenting with new ideas, in a city that never stops evolving.

He arrived in Limassol at 10 years old, leaving Morfou with his family, as soon as the Turkish bombing begun in 1974. They packed a few things, jumped in a track and came to stay with some relatives, until they moved in their own place, at Ayios Ioannis area. He had not been in Limassol before but once, he did, though, support Apollon F.C. from the beginning, as he says – which might make him feel that he somehow was a Limassolian forever.

For the family of refugees, things were never easy, but they were not deprived of the essentials. The father did his own business, operating a taxi company, as well as nightlife venues, while at home, the mother was a strong female presence, which influenced Andreas significantly. His father left home, when Andreas was a teenager, but he kept supporting the family from a distance. Despite the distance, his inclination in business obviously influenced his younger son, who was eager to take life in his own hands and build his own business.

In the mid-1980s, the 20-year-old Andreas went to work with his father, mostly as an office assistant at the taxi company, occasionally as a driver and at times as a cashier at the nightlife venues in Heroes Square.

“I don’t remember my father ever working as an employee. Even at Morfou, he always has his own business, with tracks for transportations. In Limassol, besides the taxi company, he opened nightlife venues, too. He was a “spirited” man and he wanted to do business in this field”, Andreas explains.

“Then, in the mid 1980’s, the cabarets at Heroes Square were different from what people may have in their mind, when they hear this word. There was a band for live music, which would play after the dance show, so that people could have a spree”, he adds. “Then, around the 1990s, this changed. After the socialist regimes were overthrown in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Europe, we had many customers from those countries, good customers, with plenty of money, and these venues gradually became strip clubs”, he says.

Doing what he does, he had to come across some difficult situations and envy was definitely an issue in this environment, so he always had to be more restrained. Still, his genuine character is revealed, whenever he smiles.

Low profile, restrained attitude, moves and expressions, with an impressive focus in his goals at each time (which are almost always related to work) and a decisive character that stands out immediately, Andreas may not be as “spirited” as his father was, but he did recognise within him the same inclination in business, so he formed his entire personality accordingly, to make sure that he would be a successful businessman.

“I took my looks from my father – anyone who knew him can tell that I am his son, even if they haven’t met me before – but I also took the good elements of my father’s character”, he says.

At 26, he decided to open his first entertainment venue, having plenty of experience from his father’s businesses. He decided to open a dance and music venue in the tourist area at Yermasoyia, whose success was doubtful, according to his father.

“Back then, this was the only venue of its kind, with great dance shows, in Limassol. The only other such venue in Cyprus was Monte Caputo”, Andreas says. The place was named Venus, presenting a completely new concept, in an area where discos were the ultimate trend. Its success convinced his father to move there, too, leaving Heroes’ Square back in history.

“Heroes’ Square was declining gradually. Even though my father was not very educated, he was insightful and he decided to move at Yermasoyia…

So, my father was the first to open a strip club in Cyprus, Mocambo (where Silk & Velvet Gentlemen's Club is still now) “, Andreas remembers. “This decision changed things in entertainment drastically, because until then it was just about the dance shows, with feathers and choreographies”, he says. This was one of the greatest changes in Limassol’s nightlife, because the meaning of the word “cabaret” was meant to change forever, from being just about the dance shows, to exclusively referring to strip clubs.

The women of  his life 

Ever since he was a very young man, he was surrounded by many and very beautiful women, due to his profession. For him, though, just 2 women were the ones that proved to be the important for the course of his life, from back then, until now: his mother and Daniella, the woman with whom he has been married since he was 27 years old, and with whom he has created his own family.

“I was only 14 when my father left home and, even though he did support us, this was definitely a hit for me… Fortunately, my mother was a rock and she raised us perfectly on her own, with the best values.

She never met another man and she focused in being a great parent for me and my brother”, he says proudly, full of respect and love for the woman, whose model became a guide for choosing his own wife, after all.

When Andreas decided to do business in entertainment, since he did recognise a future there, his mother was very cautious and worried. The option of following his father’s life choices was not exactly very appealing to her. Still, his certainty and steady character, made her put her fears aside.

Eventhough he is the head of the largest entertainment group in Limassol, he does not show off. After all, he claims that the knowledge and experiences he got from all these years, were much more important, than money.

Short after the opening of his very own venue, he met Daniella, with whom he formed a relationship of respect and mutual support, which is rare in any relationship nowadays, quite possibly because he missed this as a model in his home, while growing up. “This is something Daniella inspired to me. If it was a different person, maybe I wouldn’t act the same way, either.

Back then, it was hard for a woman to accept that her husband would work at night. Daniella accepted that, without any problems or whining”, he explains.

He had not made plans for marrying at the age of 27, but the connection between them convinced him about the course of events. When they met, she was just 18 and she had come to Limassol with a ballet group, at her first show and her first trip abroad as a dancer. This was meant to be the last one, too, since she remained in the city, to become his permanent supporter, both at home and in the business.

“I never cared for going from one woman to another, either way”, he says and he adds that “any naughty details should be my confessions as an elder”, winking and smiling at his wife, to tease her, since humour is another important element in their relationship, besides respect. During the entire interview, Daniella was sitting next to him, looking with admiration and love, smiling when he smiled, frowning when he frowned.

“I have the role of a cooling fan, to cool-off a machine that works hard, in order not to burn out”, she says smiling.

“This partnership and support I have had, from a person that I feel is my own, always by my side all these years, has been extremely helpful”, Andreas confesses, since he did come across some extreme situations in Limassol’s nightlife. “If she was whining and making troubles at home, we wouldn’t have made it”, he concludes.

Now, Daniella is more than a “cooling device”, more than a mother and a housewife, even though she has been great in all of those roles, too, all these years. She is also a confident partner in the business, who worked as a cashier for years, waiting until the place would close to leave, while she has now a very important role in the financial management of the group. For Daniella, staying at the ease of a wealthy life at home was never an option and this is something that has passed on to the 3 children’s attitude, too.  

The youngest businessman in Limassol's nightlife... 

When I went into this business, I was the youngest businessman in this field in Limassol. At 27, since I always looked younger, some would laugh at my face, when I said that I am the owner of the place”, Andreas says. He feels content with his course so far, both for staying away from hardships and for succeeding in what he does.

Was it dangerous to be in this environment?
There were many people who would do illegal business, either with drugs or by selling protection. I was never involved in business with women or drugs, so no one would come to sell protection to me. Everyone knew I would be neither a partner nor a competitor in crime, so it was never an issue for me.

Wasn’t the money tempting?

People who do illegal businesses, have a short life. I always intended to be 80 – 90 years old. So I would close my place and go home, to my family.

I never had anything to do with other things. I never wanted to be a “godfather of the nightlife”. I am a businessman, just like any other, but instead of a supermarket, for example, I run entertainment venues.

Don’t you abuse anything? In your work environment everyone drinks, everyone smokes.
No, I don’t smoke at all and I barely drink, just a glass, whenever we get together with friends. If my environment controlled my choices, I should do drugs, too, or gamble. I never do something I don’t like, though.

It was never his pursue, but Andreas Georgiou became the exact opposite from the stereotypical image of the people in the nightlife, with tendencies in illegal, abusive, or even criminal behaviour, which is truly extraordinary, considering this is what he saw and experienced from a very young age.

So, you were never in danger?
Once there was an explosive device in my wife’s car, but I know that it did not mean to harm us physically. It was someone’s way to get closer to me, so that they could get hired in the business. Of course, for the police this case is still considered unresolved.

But you did witness a murder.
Yes, I did. I was present in 2 cases of murder. One, in fact, was against one of my best friends. We were out dining and then we went at my venue. I was sitting in my office and he was having fun in the place. Before leaving he came to say goodbye.

I was still in the office when he went outside and then I heard a shot. For a moment, I thought that he had shot someone, but it turned out that he was the victim after all.

Around the same time, a man from the security of my venue was shot, too.

Didn’t you ever think to revenge for your personal loss?
Revenge is not the best thing one can choose. When you get into these things, you inevitably end badly and I always tried to avoid this.

And, after all, who am I to take revenge? Who am I to have a right to kill anyone?

I did consider giving up in those days, back in the turbulent 1995 – 96. Daniella and I talked about it and I would have probably done so, if I didn’t have any good friends to support me through all of these. I feel good for keeping both myself and these good, personal friends, away from the hardships and the dark side of the nightlife of that time in Limassol.

A new breeze at the nightlife of the Limassol…

When did the nightlife in Limassol begin to change?
After the move from Heroes’ Square to the tourist area, the next great change occurred after the decline of the tourist area, with the discos closing one after another and people moving to the city, in smaller places, mostly bars. Generally, I think that our entertainment follows the model of Greece, with some delay. The discos closed there, too, at some point, and smaller places, with Greek music and no dancefloors appeared. Afterwards, smaller bars came up, too.

Marina Breeze Lounge Bar is a completely different venue than anything else the group has opened, mostly thanks to its location, right above the sea at the Limassol Marina, and its all-day concept for coffee, drinks and dining.

What marked this change?
New trends came up and I decided to try something new and completely change one of the 2 strip clubs. So, I had this idea for a summer bar, which was originally designed to be a large investment, a new thing in the city with lots of potential. Every time I do something new, I put all of my confidence in it, to make it work in the best possible way and in this case I worked with some people who had previous experience in this kind of entertainment. So, in 2006, Breeze Summer Club opened in Limassol.

Was it a conscious choice to do something more “serious” than a strip club?
No, this was not the way I thought about it. The way I see it, every business is serious.

What makes a business serious is the way you manage it. It does not mean that it is not a serious business, just because it is a strip club.

All these years, all of my venues operated perfectly, without any trouble with the law.

Is the law important to you?
Yes, it is important and I always try to follow the regulations, so I don’t have problems generally in my business. The only cases when there is a problem, is keeping the operation hour limit, because doing so will make you a victim in illegal competition. Because, when so many venues operate without authorization, staying open longer that they should, if you have an authorized venue, but you keep the law, then you lose customers.

"It is important to have a new idea to present, a venue that will not copy an old one".

If the law does not apply the same way for everyone, it forces you to break it, resulting to fees imposed by the court. When there are so many places without any authorization, many are responsible for that. Sure, politicians have a great responsibility, because they don’t want to have any dislikes for regulating against some people. So, we end up with unauthorized venues, which have it better than the authorized ones, since there is no one to apologize for breaking the law there. Anyone who is a good businessman is punishes, after all.

Basically the state leaves room for illegal competition, in entertainment, dining and hospitality industry

If every appropriate department did what they were supposed to do and worked together, there would be no problem. Neither the Municipality, nor the CTO, nor the Police can do anything, each one by themselves. Apart from the applying the law properly, there should be amendments in the law system, too. One wonders why all these venues operating, do not have a licence yet, and why do the ones inappropriate for authorization, are still open.

"Limassol was always a pioneer in entertainment"

Does Limassol deserve the title of the city of entertainment?
Yes, Limassol has always been ahead in this matters, and there were always places created more pioneering. Not only is the entertainment that moves Limassol forward, but also all the projects that have been taking place in the recent years, from Molos’ formation and beyond.

Did the entertainment industry help these projects?
Surely they helped, but, respectively, entertainment businesses helped these projects to have the desired results for the city. Because if there are projects and buildings are being constructed, but the people that come to Limassol have nothing to do to have fun, then they don’t have the same value.

Today, Breeze Summer Club is one of the few venues that attract enthusiastic guests to Limassol, both from other cities in Cyprus and from abroad.

Do you believe that Breeze Group has offered anything to Limassol?
We always seek to bring new things. The group's businesses are not copies, but new options for the city, and we are delighted to see people from abroad visiting Limassol, thanks to the places we have created. From this point of view, yes, the group has offered in Limassol, as could anyone else who brings new ideas and invests in the city.

What about mistakes? There were no mistakes to this course of 10+ years?
Of course mistakes have been done. You can only learn when you make mistakes. All the concepts that the Club introduced in Limassol, were ideas that we believed them very much and that’s why we invest in them. Where the mistakes have been made, we needed to change things, even to close some shops. A typical example is the Downtown (now Ola Ellinika), an innovative idea for a club in the historical city centre.

When we saw that this concept should change, I didn’t hesitate to close it in one night – even if it was a Saturday night and we were expecting customers.

For Marina Breeze, which was a very different concept from the beginning, an all-day lounge for food, drinks and fun (since these are the trends for the entertainment now, especially for ages 27 to 35), many told me to give it up. I was saddened, of course, because I don’t like the feeling of failure. Some corrective moves needed to be made and it’s now on the right track. In business there are always the difficulties and the obstacles, but without the failure you will never reach the success.

Maybe Marina Breeze is not the most profitable business of the Group at this moment, because it has a high host location, but it adds value to the overall image of the group. Of course, I had other suggestions for something impressive with a big name, which would also give great value to the Group, but I very believed to the uniqueness of this place, which is over the water, and I wasn’t ready to give it up. For the same reason, we also brought the big events to Breeze Summer. They don’t make a profit, but they add value to the Group's name.

"Business always have difficulties and setbacks, back without failure, you will never succeed".

The unorthodox fact about Marina Breeze is that people coming from abroad are excited about it, even though they have seen amazing venues in other countries. The fact that locals are not that excited about this place, is rather disappointing. Of course, I am certain that trends are about to change in the coming years.

What are the criteria to decide how is a new place going to be: new ideas, trends or maximum possible profit?
It is a combination. We keep asking people about it we estimate their needs. It is important to present something new and different, not a copy of a previous venue. The truth is that, after all these years, any venue of the group is something that people are curious about.

To keep people interested and excited about a place, such as Bordello, you need to present a great content, too.

Bordello was set up properly and that’s why it attracts many people from other cities, too. We wanted a 3 in 1 venue, for dining, drinks and dancing, which would be targeted to the ages 27 – 35 and we made it.

Bordello the latest addition for the group, in December of 2017, which sure did shake thing up in the city, with an original approach and a retro sense of luxury.

Do you think people aknowledge the value of the entertainment that Limassol offers?
Not always. Because one may feel that, since they are in there own place, they may not value what Limassol has, no matter how special or qualitative it is. For example, someone will come at Marina Breeze and will require to smoke, while smoking is not allowed. Abroad, however, they would be willing to go out to smoke and they would be happy with it.

Thus, it’s not that the locals don’t aknowledge what the city has to offer, but they don’t treat it the same way.

Also, a characteristic of our culture is the attitude of complaining about the minimum consumption at low cost,which we demand for any reservations at the sofas in the clubs, like Breeze Summer or Bedroom – which, as our foreign customers tell us, they are clubs that you rarely see even abroad. Of course, if the customer who is grouching had to pay the same amount to a club abroad, even inferior to ours, he would have done it without any objection and more, he would also be proud of it.

Do you believe that Limassol needs further upgrading? 
Some things need to be improved, such as the traffic. Changes that showed signs of evolution have been made, but the infrastructure that was needed for these elements to function properly, have not been created. For example, when the Limassol Municipality gives operating permission for 100 restaurants in the centre, without ensuring a parking space for everyone who visits them, how can the traffic be smooth to that area? If you start on Saturday to visit Limassol Marina, how long will it take you to get there and how sure it is that you will find a parking place? It would be better to have fewer venues, so people could have a more qualitative entertainment.

Do you see things in Limassolian’s mentality that should change?
Of course things need to be changed.

People’s mentality shapes the attitude of politicians, we make our politicians and we are also responsible for the results we see on a daily basis. The special favours and the similar actions, all these, are practices that we should eliminate.

Perhaps after 10-20 years, when people with new ideas come, some things may change.

As far as the entertainment is concerned, do Limassolians really have fun, are they outgoing?
From what I can see in our venues, I think the pretentious style is outdated. We have also suffered great misfortunes, so when the people go out, they want to have a really good time, they need you to offer what they cannot have in their routine. We even see the most prosperous ones wanting simpler things, without having the tendency to show off. This complex, making one to spend a lot so they can have fun, is gone. Besides, Limassol offers choices for all the pockets. We, from our side, take care to offer quality hospitality, with attention to the detail, without something inaccessible to the average Limassolian.

“I have to pay back to my family what I owe "

With all this success, you must have become really wealthy from your business.
More I feel that I got rich spiritually, rather than economically, working at night. I feel that I have gained knowledge and experience that I couldn’t find not even in 10 universities. I did deal with these businesses, of course, because I knew I could make money and I never wanted to be dependent on others, to be an employee, for example.

Have you ever thought about dealing with other business sectors?
No. When I stop working, I have to pay back some of what I owe to my family and then I will start traveling with my wife.

Many times I feel guilty for what my children have been deprived of, but the success in our job has its cost.

In fact, sometimes in the past, I thought that it would be better to be an employee somewhere and spend more time with them, though I don’t know if I could ever do that.

Have you deprived much of your family and yourself all these years?
Of course! I had to deprive of my personal time, holidays and rest. And the children have been deprived of me and many times they made complaints. The older starts to understand, of course, that we were working so hard to create something for them. He also wanted himself to study about the hotel industries, in Switzerland, so he can deal with the shops, although I didn’t push him for something like that.

Will they choose to go out at the Group’s shops for fun?
Not so much. My children are not so much in to clubs. One would expect that they would reserve a table for their friends every week, but that is not what happens at all. They come to the shop once in a while, when they need it, and not systematically, just because their father is the owner.

Our children always wanted their friends to love them for what they are and not for the work their father does. So whenever they get together with their friends at one of our shops, they will always ask for the bill and they will always pay.

It's up to us, of course, to give a discount. And to our colleague’s shops, even if they don’t a permission to go in, they will not invoke their name to pass. It’s something they adopted on their own, as an extension of the way they grew up, and this is something that certainly satisfies us. It’s, rather, a proof that the time we spent with our children while they were growing, may not be so much, but it was a quality time.

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He has never been open about his life. He may be known to people as an honest, serious and well-paying businessman (who hates bullying, which many in this business use to avoid their obligations), but he safeguards everything about his private and family life, with a devotion that only inspires respect. With All About Limassol he wanted to have an open discussion, without pretensions and taboos, knowing that through the Limassol Official Source of Promotion, he speaks with and about the whole city. He knows that in this great effort for the city and its people, people who have been creating in it for decades and they envision an even brighter brighter, owe to open up and speak with honesty.

The fact that he doesn’t normally open up, doesn’t mean, of course, that he is a stiff businessman with strict logic and well-hidden emotions. Even at the time of our conversation, there were moments (both when he narrated the murder of his friend, and when he talked about what he had been depriving of his children), that he had to lower his lookm, so that he didn’t let his tearing eyes betray him. He confesses that his emotions have put him in trouble sometimes, as he finds it difficult, for example, to let someone go from the group for not doing his job well, having as a result a problematic situation that can keep going on for years.

Even so, however, the emotions of Andreas Georgiou give him a humane quality, intimate and accessible, which is added on his other qualities, the one enterprising and active businessman who has managed to showcase Limassol as a destination of entertainment in Cyprus and abroad. And even if it was the greatest misfortune of the island that brought him in this city, it had a particularly fortunate outcome, both for him and for Limassol.