John’s Restaurant has seen many changes since they opened in 1964. In that year, John Stathakis bought the house standing at 1643 London Road. The previous owner had already been serving food on the premises. “He would put a small sign out by the road that said ‘EAT’ whenever his wife did some extra cooking. The first few people that pulled up would get to eat,” Leo Stathakis, John’s son, explains. “Now they say, ‘I’ll meet you at John’s.’” John quickly turned the small house into a busy restaurant.
The restaurant was a hit with travellers and truckers alike. It sat on what was then the Chicago-to-Toronto Traffic Corridor in an area known as the Golden Mile. When John purchased the house, he converted the front into a dining room for the restaurant and the family lived in the back. However, they soon found that they needed more space. “The current building was built in the 1970’s and the original house demolished for parking,” Stathakis explains. John had emigrated from Greece and worked as a dishwasher before starting his own business. When the restaurant became too busy for John and his wife Tassia to run themselves, he invited two of his nephews from Greece, George and Louie Perdikis, to join them. Both have been at John’s for more than forty years now.
When Highway 402 was built in 1970s, the traffic flow slowed considerably. “When the highway was built, it was devastating to the area. A lot of businesses closed and hotels suffered. John’s was an exception; it became a destination. People from Sarnia came of course, but John’s grew a loyal following throughout southwestern Ontario.” They’ve expanded the building many times over the years.