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Style · September 26, 2012

M&P’s thrives in Morrisville with good food, familiarity

Photos/Cassandra Brown
M&P's owners Bessie and Jimmy Karellas stress good food, reasonable prices and friendly service.
The Rider family, longtime patrons, enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which underwent extensive renovation about 2-1/2 years ago.
Tom Harrington makes a sub at M&P.
The souvlaki-grilled chicken gyro reflects the Greek heritage.
M&P’s Pizza
• Where: 12975 Marsh Road, Morrisville
• Menu: Variety of Greek and American food
• Owners: Jimmy and Bessie Karellas
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday.
• Phone: 439-3935 or 439-4619
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
For three decades, customers have heard their first names as they walk through the front door just a couple dozen yards from one of Fauquier’s busiest highways.

Patrons enjoy pizza, gyros and a variety of other lunch and dinner options while a country music radio station plays softly through the restaurant.

Morrisville Pizza — “M&P’s Pizza” or simply “M&P’s” — stands seven miles south of Bealeton at the eastern edge of Route 17.

Jimmy and Bessie Karellas have built a thriving family business with the county’s southern-most restaurant.

Their secret to success?

“You have to do it as if the restaurant were opening from Day One, every day,” Jimmy said.

He bought the restaurant in 1982 from his aunt and uncle, Maria and Pete Linardakis, who still own Pete’s Park ’n’ Eat about 11 miles up the road at Opal.

M&P’s originally stood for Maria and Pete’s Pizza. After purchasing the place, Jimmy decided to keep the name.

The James family of Morrisville originally built the restaurant during the 1960s.

The Karellas family has a history in the business. Before taking over M&P’s, Jimmy owned a restaurant in Richmond.

“I always wanted to own my own restaurant. That was my goal,” Jimmy explained. As a teenager, he would visit for summer vacation and help his uncle at M&P’s.

Bessie and Jimmy’s son-in-law Paul Bardis, a full-time staffer at M&P’s, previously worked at his family-owned gyro restaurant, the Parthenon, in Greece.

All three of Bessie and Jimmy’s children — Helen (Paul’s wife), Georgia and John — have worked at M&Ps.

John Karellas said the work has taught him time management skills and responsibility.

“Working and growing up in the restaurant has taught me the meaning of hard work and dedication,” Georgia Karellas said. “I have learned that working hard and being committed to my work and family are essential for success in my life.”

Of Greek descent, Mr. and Mrs. Karellas were born and raised in Montreal. They incorporate their heritage into the food they serve, including gyros, baklava — a honey and nut pastry, Greek salads and souvlaki-grilled and seasoned chicken, one of the main meats in a gyro.

The restaurant also serves a variety of pizzas, pasta, fish, hamburgers, hot dogs, subs, salads, beer and wine.

M&P’s relies mostly on word-of-mouth for advertising.

“When someone has tried us, they will tell someone else,” Jimmy explained.

Local families dominate M&P’s clientele. Some customers have been eating for three generations.

“We know our customers by name and they know us,” Bessie said.

Mike and Liz Weaver have enjoyed patronized the place for 27 years.

“It is close to home, and we’ve always had good service and good food,” Mr. Weaver said.

They eat there at least once a week, “because it’s family owned and you feel like you are helping someone in the community instead of a franchise,” Mr. Weaver explained.

Her family’s patronage stretches back 21 years, said Shirley Rider, who appreciates the good food and friendly people.

“It’s always clean,” Mrs. Rider said.

M&P’s Pizza
• Where: 12975 Marsh Road, Morrisville
• Menu: Variety of Greek and American food
• Owners: Jimmy and Bessie Karellas
• Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday.
• Phone: 439-3935 or 439-4619
Of course, M&P’s also draws travelers, many driving between Interstate 95 at Fredericksburg and Interstate 81 at Winchester.

“We’ve established a steady clientele through travelers,” Jimmy said. “If they stop in one time they remember a place when they come by again and they stop again.”

The Karellas family stresses personal service.

“I think a lot of people prefer a small family business, if they get the service, the good food and good price,” Jimmy said. “Travelers prefer to stop here instead of a major fast food place, because it’s something different that they don’t see everywhere.”

Since completing a renovation in January 2010, the restaurant has drawn more travelers.

“Especially now that we have remodeled the building, we are getting more people. It’s more attractive,” Bessie said.

During the major, 2-1/2-month construction project, Miller Brothers Inc. of Marshall installed vaulted ceiling while replacing the original, flat roof. The project included handicapped-accessible restrooms, new lighting and new seating areas.

“We wanted to bring our building more up to date for our customers,” Jimmy said.

As for the future of the restaurant, the owners plan to keep it in the family for many more years.

“We enjoy it and we love it or else we wouldn’t have been here as long as we have,” Jimmy said.
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