Kosta the Greek
You’ll find this personable entrepreneur each Sunday at the Hillcrest Farmers Market meeting new friends, welcoming longtime customers back and tempting the shoppers with his flavorful fresh pasta, handcrafted sauces and an assortment of family olives grown in northern Greece. During their country’s civil war his parents migrated to Melbourne, Australia, where Kosta Houdalkis was born and raised. Vacation travels brought him to San Diego, where he fell in love, created a business plan for his American dream and in 2007 founded Lisko Imports. As a member of the Psomataki family, which has grown olives for more than 50 years, the handsome Aussie began wholesaling their products at local markets and restaurants before the economic downturn hit the following year.
The Talmadge resident then adjusted his business plan and created original pastas and pesto sauces for farmers markets. Customers loved the quantity and quality of his products, and his business grew. Hillcrest Farmers Market manager David Larson became the catalyst to Kosta’s success by encouraging him to become a vendor at our neighborhood’s popular Sunday event, and the rest is history. His most unique linguini is made with chickpeas instead of flour, and their most popular variety is the garlic/basil. Lisko Imports starting out with a 15-foot booth, but quickly expanded to offer more top quality products.
Along with fresh eggs from Eben-Haezer’s in Ramona, pastries from Sweet Cheeks Bakery and olives from family groves, Kosta brings together the perfect ingredients for a quick, quality meal in five or six minutes for as little as $4 per person. As a good neighbor he also promotes his fellow vendors for fresh flowers, fruits or vegetables to complement the tasty meal.
Kosta attributes his rapid business growth to the fact that he listens to customers and responds to their wishes. In 2011 he added fresh ravioli and gnocchi, then in May this amazing entrepreneur teamed up with Mark Lane of Poppa’s Fish to open a deli/grill at 6548 El Cajon Boulevard for customers who just can’t wait until Sunday. Stop by next time you’re in the neighborhood of Rolando.