Cooking With Heart: A Fond Farewell to Olga Loizon of Olga’s Kitchen

To open her first Olga’s Kitchen location in Birmingham in 1970, Loizon had to become the first women ever granted a loan from Detroit Bank and Trust.

TEAM Schostak Family Restaurants

Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation. CultureShift airs weekdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on 101.9 WDETFM Detroit public radio.

The city of Detroit has lost a giant in the local dining scene. Earlier this week, Olga Loizon passed away at the age of 92.

A Detroit native, Loizon was the founder of Olga’s Kitchen — a loving tribute to her homeland of Greece.

Known for spinach pies, pita bread sandwiches and curly fries, Olga’s Kitchen has been a comfort-food staple in Metro Detroit for decades.

Detroit News features reporter Melody Baetens covers the food scene in Detroit and felt a personal connection to Loizon.

“When I was a younger person, Olga’s was my favorite,” recalls Baetens. “(Olga’s Kitchen) was very comforting food. Even after she brought in some investors and sold part of the business, she still had her photo…by the register. When she came in you knew it was her. You knew who Olga was.”

Loizon first started Olga’s Kitchen in the 1970s and was ahead of her time as a female entrepreneur. For example, she was the first woman to get a business loan from her bank Detroit Bank and Trust.

“I said I’d like to borrow $3,000,” recalled Loizon during a 2017 video for Olga’s Kitchen.  

“(The bank teller) says… ‘take this application and give it to Mr. Loizon.’ I said, ‘you misunderstood me. I just want to borrow (some money) and do something myself.’”

Click on the audio player above to hear Detroit News features reporter Melody Baetens talk about the legacy of the founder of Olga’s Kitchen, Olga Loizon. 


  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.