Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Updated: March 2, 2020 Business Leaders of the Year

Kokkinis grew Table Talk into a $160M community icon

Photo | Matt Wright Harry Kokkinis

Harry Kokkinis was four years old when tagged along with his dad as he visited his company’s facilities and sales routes.

It was a Sunday, which is when his dad typically visited the facility of the family business. On this visit to the Canal District facility, his dad and grandfather thought it was time to welcome a third generation into the family business. The young Harry Kokkinis sampled a Table Talk pumpkin pie.

“After that, forget about it,” Kokkinis said.

Now, Kokkinis is president of the company as historic as any other Worcester institution. The company was founded in 1924 by his maternal grandfather Theodore Tonna and his business partner Angelo Cotsida, both Greek immigrants. The business plan was simple: make pies at night and deliver them during the day.

Business grew on the demand for the pies, particularly at Fort Devens, Kokkinis said. In the 1940s, the company moved to its current Kelley Square location.

Despite the success, Kokkinis’ grandfather and other partners sold the business. It changed hands several times from different corporations – including pharmaceutical company Squibb – until it was sold to a Texas entity, which ran it into the ground, Kokkinis said.

The math just didn’t work and in 1984, Table Talk Pies closed its doors. Kokkinis’ father continued working at the company throughout the ownership changes and wanted the brand to live on. He purchased the business at auction and reopened in early 1986.

With a renewed focus on four-inch snack pies, the company resumed its popularity. In the early 2000s, the company eclipsed the $30-million sales mark, and Kokkinis stepped in as vice president in 2004 after his father bought out investors. The company did $160 million in sales last year and has more than doubled its sales over the last six years.

The company pumps pies out of its factories to the tune of four million four-inch pies per week.

“It’s such a blessing to be able to follow in the footsteps of my dad and granther,” Kokkinis said.

Table Talk Pies are a staple in most supermarkets in the Northeast, but the pies can also be found in California, Oregon, Arizona and parts of the Midwest.

Since 2017, the firm opened a 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on Southgate Street, a 30,000-square-foot freezer across the street and is planning a 140,000-square-foot facility in Main South.

The Main South expansion is coming at the expense of the company’s longtime Kelley Square home. The facility is directly next to the $132-million Polar Park baseball stadium under construction. Coupled the logistical challenges the project presents and the facility’s age, Kokkinis and the company decided the best option was to build a modern facility.

“There’s so much history here,” he said. “I’m not sure what my father and grandfather are saying up in Heaven about it. ‘What the hell is he doing?’”

The company’s retail store on Green Street should stay in place despite the move.

“We want to make sure the pie store stays where it is,” he said. “That’s one way for us to help maintain that history.”

Jim Chacharone, the Worcester real estate developer and principal of Chacharone Properties who has worked with Kokkinis going on three projects, said staying in Worcester and preserving its history has always been vital to Kokkinis. The facility on Southgate Street – which has long been a vacant piece of contaminated land before a massive cleanup effort – saw new life with Table Talk’s factory.

“It brought life to that whole section of Worcester,” Chacharone said. “It changed the landscape.”

Chacharone joked Kokkins has tested his patience a few times. “The bottom line is you know where he stands,” Chacharone said. “He’s an honest, hard-working individual.”

Chacharone remembers his first Table Talk pie in Brooklyn more than six decades ago.

“It has the biggest significance knowing how I was eating a pie 65 years ago and today I’m building a facility for them,” he said.

Read about the other 2020 Business Leaders of the Year

Small Business Leader of the Year: Brandale D. Randolph, founder & CEO, 1854 Cycling Co.

Nonprofit Business Leader of the Year: Stephanie Page, executive director, Abby's House

Innovative Business Leader of the Year: Paul Sellew, CEO, Little Leaf Farms

Family Business Leaders of the Year: Edna, Gregory & Miriam Hyder, co-owners, Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace

Sign up for Enews

WBJ Web Partners


March 2, 2020
Back in the early 60's, we could buy the broken top small pies for 4¢ at the thrift store on Green Street! And there was a nice lady who would search for the double-stuffed ones for my brother and me. And the lines up the street at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Such great memories. I'm so glad Table Talk is still around!
Order a PDF