TODAY is National Pasta Day, and to mark the occasion, the Echo looks back at one of the oldest restaurants in Southampton, one that was once famous for its plates of spaghetti.

It all began more than 80 years ago when a pair of Greek Cypriots, with little money or understanding of English, sailed from their homeland to find work in Britain.

The two men, who had been neighbours all their lives, split company shortly after arriving to pursue their individual ambitions. Nick Lysandrides travelled to Clacton, Essex to become a restaurateur, whilst Michael George Hannides finally settled in Southampton to establish the popular restaurant George's in 1940.

George's offered something more exotic and continental than other eateries at the time, swapping roast meat and veg for spaghetti and garlic bread. Because of this, Hannides rapidly gained notoriety for his food.

Michael George Hannides pics - Michael celebrating Georges 50th anniversary.

Michael George Hannides pics - Michael celebrating George's 50th anniversary.

The diner didn't take long to gain popularity, becoming an institution for many local workers and residents alike.

In January 1961 Hannides was forced to take his first holiday in 18 years while his restaurant was torn down to make way for a new inner ring-road. Although it pained him to be away from his business and customers for 11 months, the two-story eating house which rose in the former's shadow was the establishment he had dreamt of having when he first landed on these shores.


Georges Restaurant after it was re-opened in December 1961.

Georges Restaurant after it was re-opened in December 1961.


Hannides was particularly famous for his spaghetti, with people travelling far and wide to taste the renowned dish. One Greek millionaire even rode by taxi from the Savoy Hotel, London because he’d heard how fabulous it was.

To celebrate his perfect pasta, an annual spaghetti eating contest was held at the restaurant in which diners raced each other to reach the bottom of as many plates as they could. Juices would fly everywhere, spectacles would steam up, and noses would burn - it was said to have been carnage.


Students speghetti eating contest at Georges Restaurant in Southampton. February 7, 1962. THE SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO ARCHIVES. HAMPSHIRE HERITAGE SUPPLEMENT. Ref: 8427c

Students spaghetti eating contest at George's Restaurant in Southampton.

Hannides retired in 1967, but sixteen years later reopened the popular eatery with his son Peter as manager.

Michael George Hannides passed away in August 2004, but his legacy lives on through his family-run restaurant - his dream come true.