Restaurateur Charles Bililies of Souvla - Biography

San Francisco, CA

September 2019

Born into a Greek-American family of restaurateurs, Charles Bililies was destined to a life in hospitality. The Boston native was studying natural resources at the University of Vermont when he realized his family-bred love of food was too strong to ignore. Bililies started on the line at juggernaut Legal Sea Foods and earned his culinary degree at Johnson & Wales in nearby Providence, Rhode Island. After three years with Legal, Bililies decided he wanted to learn more about the business of hospitality and earned his degree in business administration from Cornell University. 

In 2006, he became Thomas Keller’s first assistant. From there, Bililies helped coordinate the infrastructure and training program at The French Laundry, and a job as director of management at Bouchon followed. After a year and a half at Bouchon, he moved on to assist another industry great, Michael Mina, and helping launch RN74. 

All the while Bililies was hosting backyard barbecues, where he gathered friends and fed them spit-roasted whole animals. Eating leftover lamb on a sandwich one day, he dreamed up the idea for a fast-casual, tech-driven Greek restaurant. Souvla opened its doors in 2014 in San Francsico’s Hayes Valley with Greek froyo in the front, rotisseries in back, and optional fries built into your sandwich (aka Greek-style). The fast-fine restaurant quickly took off and is now serving customers at four locations plus from a truck serving frozen Greek yogurt.