Knowing Your Neighbors: Bobby the Greek’s Original Gyros

HIBBING, Minn. — It’s a tiny place, but it serves its purpose fine.

This shack is where Greek native Bobby Papaioannou prepares authentic gyros for the people of Hibbing, Minnesota.

Bobby the Greek – as he’s known – originally went to school to learn how to work in the mines.

“In 1981 the mines closed, so I didn’t have nothing else to do,” Papaioannou said.  “And I didn’t know what to do.  So I opened a gyro stand.”

And his gyro stand has been giving Iron Rangers a taste of the Mediterranean for more than thirty years.

“In school I wasn’t the best, so I figured doing this, it’ll be giving to society something,” Papaioannou said.

Over the years, bobby has experimented with different tastes and flavors – he says chicken and pork didn’t go over too well.

But he says people really just want a beef or lamb gyro, just like they’d make back home in Greece.

“I don’t put it in the refrigerator; it’s all fresh,” Papaioannou said.  “It’s like having a T-bone steak barbecued today.  Eat it tomorrow it’s not the same.”

Bobby says he’s been open so long, he’s watched his youngest customers grow up before his eyes.

“I watch people grow up and have kids and their kids have kids almost!” he says with a big smile. “I call them my gyro children!”

Which is why he stays open, serving these traditional Greek gyros to the town of Hibbing for more than three decades.

“There’s people that go ‘I drove 3 hours to come and have a gyro and see you!’ and it inspires me…it keeps me alive!  Thank god!” said Papaioannou, another big smile across his face.

Bobby the Greek’s Original Gyros is located on East Howard Street in Hibbing.

The gyro stand is typically open Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

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