the issue > Get to Know | Village Voices > August 1, 2019
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Get to Know…Deno Velis

hpv.456_DenoVelis

Tell us a little about yourself and what led you to launch Deno’s of Highland Park?

After surviving World War II and apprenticing as a shoemaker, I came to the United States from Greece in 1955. I worked throughout parts of the U.S. for a couple of years, and settled in Dallas since it looked like it was a city that was growing. I found work as a shoemaker and shoe repair craftsman, but also began my search for a place to have my own shop. In 1960, I bought my first shop on Lovers Lane and renamed it Deno’s. In 1966, I had the opportunity to purchase the old Village Shoe Repair in Highland Park Village which everyone knows today as Deno’s of Highland Park.

How long have you been leading the charge at Deno’s?

Well, my wife Angelina has been letting me “lead” since 1960. In 1996, Angelina and I sold the business to my son, Jimmy, and son-in-law Harry. But even today, we still enjoy helping out wherever we can.

What’s your favorite or most unique thing about what you do?

I can hand-make a shoe or sandal from scratch.

How long have you personally been visiting Highland Park Village?

I remember visiting Highland Park Village from my earliest days in the United States. Even in the 1950’s, it was a unique destination.

What do you enjoy most about the Highland Park Village community?

I really enjoy the unique architecture and the unique people here! The architecture and diverse cultures you can encounter remind me of the Europe from my younger days. 

Are there any secret or fun facts you can share about the center, your shop, or yourself?

One of my favorite “guilty pleasures” is to walk the Village and admire the window displays, especially the ones with shoes in them!

What are some of your other favorite spots around The Village?

Whenever I look at the small, iconic, neon-lit cupola on top of the Village Theatre, it reminds me of the place that brought me my success in this country, the Highland Park Village.