Food, fun & family

Local Greek family enjoys working together at area farmers’ markets, events

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Where to find Getta Gyro

• Vancouver Farmers Market at Columbia Tech Center, 17701 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., from 3 to 7 p.m. every Thursday through Sept. 24.

• The drive-thru is located at 118 S.E. First St., Vancouver. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

• Vancouver Farmers Market at Esther Short Park, 605 Esther St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 1.

• Camas Farmer’s Market, Northeast Fourth Avenue and Everett Street, every Wednesday, from 3 to 7 p.m., through Sept. 30.

• Wheels & Wings Community Appreciation Day, Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Grove Field Airport, 632 N.E. 267th Ave., Camas.

To learn more, visit gettagreekgyro on Facebook or gettagyro on Instagram.

When Elayne Barlas began selling baklava, a Greek pastry, at the Vancouver Farmers Market, she never imagined it would turn into a thriving family business.

“I had a dream of someday opening my own business,” she said. “But it began with just a tent at the market. Adam and I went out and sold it on every Saturday for five years.”

Elayne, 56; husband Harry, 57 and son, Adam, 25, can often be seen at area farmers markets, events and with their latest addition, an 18-foot food truck that they traveled all the way to Florida to outfit.

But in 2004, Elayne was only thinking about sharing the pastry she loved with others.

The Barlas family has lived in Camas since 2002. Their business is centered around their family, with all of the children helping out in one way or another. They include Phillip, 21, Lukas, 22 and Brianna, 27, in addition to Adam.

Elayne’s extended family assists with business as well.

“It’s been a great time,” she said. “We have arguments, disagreements, ups and downs, and good times,” she said. “But in the end, we are family.”

Added Harry, “We’re Greek. We sing, we fight, and we laugh.”

In 2009, Elayne began expanding offerings at the Vancouver Farmers Market to include the gyro.

“I thought, ‘Let’s add more to this booth and see what happens,” she recalled.

The result was overwhelmingly positive.

In 2010, the Barlas family opened a booth at the Wednesday Camas Farmer’s Market.

“When the farmers markets’ ended, people wanted to know if they could get our food at a restaurant,” Harry said. “In the back of our mind, we always thought having a drive-thru somewhere would be great.”

In 2012, that dream became a reality and the family opened one in east Vancouver.

In 2014, they decided to expand operations once again, this time to include a mobile food truck. They invested $70,000 to convert a 2006 Morgan Olson Step Van into a mobile kitchen.

The process was not simple. After being unable to find anyone in the Portland metro area to complete the job, they had to search elsewhere.

“I joke that we headed southeast,” Harry said. “All the way to Florida.”

The family drove the van across the country to have it retrofitted. They then flew home and back again several weeks later to drive the truck back to Camas.

After dealing with “some hurdles and bureaucratic red tape,” as Harry puts it, the food truck was ready for operations earlier this summer.

Once again, it appears as if the Barlas family has a winning idea.

“People love the truck,” Adam said. “It’s nice to be able to have a nonpermanent spot and expand our business all over Vancouver and Portland. The truck definitely stands out.”

Currently, it is situated at the Vancouver Farmers Market at Columbia Tech Center on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Erin Timmerman, market coordinator, said the truck has been a nice addition.

“It’s been great to have this at our market,” she said. “The truck is beautiful and our customers appreciate it.”

Harry noted that it was a lot more convenient, compared to setting up and tearing down a tent.

“It is much better at keeping us out of the weather and it is nice to have refrigeration,” he said. “This is another medium we use to reach people with our product.”

Owning a business comes with ups and down, but the Barlas family is grateful to have each other to lean on through it all.

“I love having everyone together,” Elayne said. “And we love serving our community with a great product. It has been a very exciting journey in our lives and seeing all the doors that have opened for us. From making baklava at the market, to our drive thru, to the truck, the doors have just opened. I am excited about the next phase.”

Added Harry, “Lots of people think owning your own business means you just show up whenever, but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. All-in-all though, it’s been very rewarding.”

Adam, a 2014 Washington State University Vancouver graduate, is excited about the future.

“I know I can take this business as far as I can go,” he said.

The Getta Gyro truck will be at Wheels & Wings Community Appreciation Day at Grove Field in Camas this Saturday.

“We encourage the community to stop by and try our gyros,” Elayne said. “It’s the sauce that makes it special.”