Olga's Kitchen founder Olga Loizon dies at 92

Detroit restaurateur served as a pioneer for women in business

DETROIT – Olga’s Kitchen announced Monday that its founder and Detroit native Olga Loizon died this afternoon surrounded by family. She was 92.  

The iconic restaurateur, best known for her signature Original Olga at her namesake restaurant, created the concept for Olga’s Kitchen following a trip to Greece.

The second-born daughter of Greek immigrant parents, she learned early on to always be in pursuit of her dreams.

Olga Loizon. (Olga's Kitchen)
Olga Loizon. (Olga's Kitchen)

Loizon, over time, overcame a series of obstacles and became the first woman to secure a business loan from her local bank.

With the necessary finances in hand, Loizon opened the first Olga’s Kitchen restaurant in Birmingham in 1970. She sold the concept to private investors in 1976.

“Our beloved mother and grandmother lived a long, happy and successful life that has always amazed and inspired each one of us. It is beautiful to hear countless stories of how she inspired so many others with her accomplishments,” said Bill Loizon.

“She loved her family beyond measure. Her passion for her work and Olga’s Kitchen was unmatched, marketing for the brand at every turn. We are so proud of her legacy and know she and her story will continue to serve as an esteemed role model and inspiration for entrepreneurs, especially fellow females with the drive to make their dreams a reality. She will never be forgotten and will forever be missed.”

Olga’s Kitchen was purchased by Michigan-based TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants in late 2015.

Under TSFR ownership, Loizon continued to be a staple in the business, often hosting “Olga Visits” across the portfolio of restaurants to meet and interact with her beloved fans.

Olga Loizon. (Olga's Kitchen)
Olga Loizon. (Olga's Kitchen)

Today, the brand continues to operate 26 restaurants with a steadfast commitment to taste, quality and uniqueness established by Loizon decades ago.

“Olga Loizon was a Detroit original whose trademark was to leave everything she touched wrapped in love—from creating her Original Olga and meeting with our loyal guests, to caring for her family and supporting her community,” said Mark Schostak, executive chairman of TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants.

“While she will be dearly missed, her legacy will forever live on with Olga’s Kitchen, and we will proudly continue her vision of delighting guests for decades to come in her honor.” 

In 2017, the Detroit Greek Independence Day Committee awarded Loizon the Greektown Preservation Society Award for her contribution to Greek culture in Michigan. She is also the recipient of the prestigious 2011 Esteemed Women of Michigan award.

Loizon is survived by her husband, John Loizon, three children, Emily Kontos, Bill Loizon and Ernest Loizon and two grandchildren, Angelo Kontos and Katina Kontos.

In lieu of flowers, the Loizon family has requested that check donations be sent to the Olga Loizon Memorial Fund at 17800 Laurel Park Drive North, Ste. 200C, Livonia, MI 48152. Donations made to the foundation will benefit young women with a passion for entrepreneurship.

Private funeral arrangements are pending. For more information on Loizon’s legacy, please visit olgaskitchen.com.

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