It all began with an American tourist and a turkey.
When George Samaras completed his tour of duty as a pharmacist in the Greek military in 1986, he needed to find a career so he turned to his love of the sea. He began racing sailboats and captaining a yacht for tourist excursions throughout the Greek islands.
In 1988, he met his future wife Kelley, an American who was vacationing with her family and had chartered Samaras’ boat. George was taken with Kelley and they stayed in touch after she returned home. She eventually moved to Greece and later the two were married. Seven years later, the couple decided to move to the United States.
George’s father-in-law had a Kamado cooker and on Thanksgiving Day, George had roasted turkey for the first time. He was amazed at the juiciness and delicious flavor of the bird that was cooked on the kamado. It looked and performed unlike any grill he had ever used.
He bought a kamado for himself and cooked on it regularly. He told his friends and family about it and began shipping them back to Greece for them to use. Eventually George had over 80 people in his homeland that wanted a kamado, so he asked the manufacturer if he could start a distributorship in Greece, but they declined.
Not to be deterred, George saw a niche in the market and decided that he would make his own kamado cookers. He was told by many people, including ceramic engineers, that it couldn’t be done, but he pressed on and spent the next several years developing and testing his own formula for the refractory material to get the right blend.
In 1996, he was ready to sell his ceramic grills. Samaras chose the name, “Primo” which means “the best” in Italian. His first manufacturing facility was a 700 sq. ft. space he rented. Due to the limited space he could only make two grills at a time and he had to drive across town to a kiln to have them fired.
Over the next several years, Primo’s kamado style grill grew in popularity as word spread about their quality and as the only ceramic grill made in the United States.
Samaras has a love for improving his ceramic grills and innovative products and in 2000 he introduced the Primo 2000, a combination gas and ceramic grill. His idea was to use the superior heat and moisture retention characteristics of a ceramic grill and the convenience of gas as a heat source that so many outdoor cookers prefer.
It was an unrivaled product never before seen in the industry, and over 700 were sold. Production was discontinued a few years later due to the shipping and assembly requirements.
George was also looking beyond the round shape of the traditional kamado and discovered that an oval-shape offered a much higher cooking versatility and efficiency. It forever changed the direction of Primo.
The introduction of the patented oval-shaped grill in 2002 established Primo as a major manufacturer in the ceramic grill market.
Today, Primo is headquartered in a 92,000 sq. ft. facility in Tucker, Georgia where their ceramic grills are produced. Primo is available in more than 24 countries around the world.