King of Donair

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King of Donair
Locally owned subsidiary
IndustryFast food
FoundedHalifax, Nova Scotia (1973; 47 years ago (1973))
HeadquartersHalifax, Nova Scotia
ProductsPizza, garlic fingers, donairs, poutine, chicken wings, poppers, egg rolls
King of Donair - Canada's Original since 1973

King of Donair (often abbreviated KOD) is a chain of restaurants that was established in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1973 by Greek immigrant Peter Gamoulakos, who is the original creator of the donair.[1][2] The brand has a cult-like following, and has been featured by National Geographic, the Food Network, the Travel Channel and Vice Media. Celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Dominique Crenn, and Matty Matheson chose King of Donair for filming, documenting and indulging. In 2015, the donair was named the official food of Halifax,[3][4] with December 8 being National Donair Day.

In addition to the donair, KOD is also known for their pizza, garlic fingers and other donair offerings such as donair egg rolls, donair plates, and donair pizza.



King of Donair at Blowers and Grafton Streets aka Pizza Corner, July 2006

The first King of Donair opened in 1973 on Quinpool Rd. in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[5][6] It was founded by Greek immigrant and restaurateur Peter Gamoulakos, who owned a pizza shop called Velo's Pizza. While on trip to Greece, he ate a lot of gyros and was inspired to bring the dish to Canada.[1] After trying to sell them at his pizza shop, he realized that Nova Scotians of the 1970s didn't have a palate for lamb and the yogurt-based tzatziki. He substituted spicy beef for lamb and created a sweet sauce made with evaporated milk. This new dish was based on the Turkish doner;[2] although the first mention of doner kebab was at Mr. Doner in 1976, Gamoulakos has been credited with creating the first prototype.[1][2] After perfecting the recipe, King of Donair was opened in 1973.[1]

The original King of Donair is located in the same building on Quinpool Rd.[7] The chain has four other locations in Nova Scotia.[8]

It has been disputed as to who was the original creator of the donair with some having credited Peter's brother John Kamoulakos (their surnames are spelled differently due to an immigration error) as co-creater. But Peter's son Leo has said his uncle John had inserted him into himself into the history and that his father should be credited.[2]

Western Canada expansion[edit]

The 2010s saw an expansion into Western Canada, beginning with pop-up shops in Alberta to test for economic viability. A two-day event was planned for March 4 in Calgary and March 5 in Banff National Park's Sunshine Village.[9] The latter event was cancelled due to concerns about crowd size, while the Calgary event continued and raised money for the Alberta Children's Hospital.[10][11]

In 2018, two restaurants were opened, in Edmonton and Grand Prairie, Alberta.[5][6] 2019 saw further expansion with a third Alberta location in Sherwood Park and its first Saskatchewan location at University Heights Suburban Centre in Saskatoon.[5][6]

Other cities announced in the Western Canada expansion were Vancouver,[8][12][13] Kelowna[8][13] and Victoria in British Columbia,[13] Regina, Saskatchewan,[12] and Winnipeg, Manitoba.[3][12] It was reported that KOD planned to have at least one location in British Columbia by the end of 2018[8] with a total of ten that were expected to open that year.[12]


In May 2012, the KOD location that was on the aptly named "Pizza Corner" in Halifax was closed[14] due to the disrepair of the rented building. Owner Sam Nahas notified landlord John Manolopoulos that the lease was not being renewed for this reason, and took Manolopoulos to small claims court to be reimbursed $25,000 on various repairs to the old building. The restaurant had been a staple of Pizza Corner since the early 1990s.[15]

In 2015, KOD alleged that the Vancouver restaurant Donair King was infringing on its trademarks such as name and logo. KOD filed documents with the Federal Court of Canada saying its name has been associated with donairs, donair meat and donair sauce since the 1970s. The claim asked the court to order them to destroy menus, signs, packaging, promotional material, and business cards with the Donair King name. It also asked for punitive and exemplary damages as well as the legal costs to be covered. Donair King denied the allegations in a statement of defence, and offered to stop using the Donair King name if King of Donair agreed to take no legal action. The statement of claim was filed Sept. 23 and Donair King filed its defence Oct. 26.[16]

Calgary was planned as one of the first cities to be included in KOD's Western Canada expansion in 2016. The company filed a statement of claim in April 2016 that stated donair establishments in Calgary such as King Donair and Shawrama, King Donair and King Shwarnae Donair, all registered under the numbered company 974819 Alberta Ltd., were active during this time and infringing on its trademark. Owner Norman Nahas cited that people would think KOD is already in Western Canada. 974819 Alberta Ltd. had yet to file a statement of defence during that time. King of Donair alleges that it previously wrote to King Donair, asking it to "cease and desist from its infringing and otherwise unlawful activities", to no effect, court documents state.[17][needs update]

Pop culture[edit]

  • On April 18, 2004; King of Donair first appears in the season 4 episode of The Trailer Park Boys entitled "A Man's Gotta Eat". Randy (played by Patrick Roach) frequently visits for donairs where he prostitutes himself for coupons.
  • Rapper Quake Matthews released a single in 2015 entitled "Down With the King" which is a tribute to the donair and King of Donair. It features Randy from Trailer Park Boys.[18]

Awards and honours[edit]

Winner of The Coast's Best of Halifax Reader's Choice Award for Best Donair: 1998–2000, 2002–2003, 2006–2010, and 2013–2016 (14 of 19 years).[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d "History of the Donair: The Halifax Origination Story (circa 1973)". February 26, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Dempsey, Amy (December 6, 2015). "Saga of Halifax's first donair resembles Greek wrapsody". The Star. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Dobbins, John (June 25, 2018). "King of Donair Opening in Winnipeg". Access Winnipeg. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  4. ^ CBC News (December 8, 2015). "Halifax declares donairs the official food of the city". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Our Story". King of Donair. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "Locations". King of Donair. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  7. ^ MacDonald, Michael (October 23, 2015). "Donairs could be designated the official food of Halifax". The Globe and Mail. The Canadian Press. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Daily Hive Staff (June 1, 2018). "Halifax's iconic King of Donair expanding to Western Canada". Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  9. ^ CBC News (February 26, 2016). "King of Donair in Halifax exploring western expansion with Alberta trip". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  10. ^ CBC News (March 4, 2016). "Calgarians get royal taste test of Halifax's King of Donair". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  11. ^ Anderson, Drew (March 5, 2016). "King of Donair event at Sunshine Village cancelled, but Calgary store likely". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c d Grant, Taryn (May 31, 2018). "The King of Donair expanding its empire to Western Canada". The Star. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c DH Vancouver Staff (June 1, 2018). "King of Donair looking to open 3 locations in BC, owner says". Daily Hive. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  14. ^ Knox, Carsten (January 12, 2012). "King of Donair exiting Pizza Corner". Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  15. ^ CBC News (January 19, 2012). "King of Donair to leave Halifax's pizza corner". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  16. ^ McMillan, Elizabeth (October 31, 2015). "Halifax's King of Donair disputes Donair King's name and logo". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  17. ^ Ward, Rachel (July 5, 2016). "King of Donair sues Alberta shops ahead of Calgary expansion". CBC News. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  18. ^ "Quake Matthews - Down With The King (Official Music Video)". YouTube. Quake Matthews. December 8, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2019.

External links[edit]