The homicide of Paeroa man Jordan Voudouris has shocked the Waikato community as police announce the case could be linked to two attempted aggravated robberies in the Western Bay of Plenty. Kiri Gillespie recounts her encounter with Mr Voudouris shortly before he was found dead.
My partner and I walked into Mykonos Pizza and Pasta at Paeroa on Saturday night after being recommended their food by the host where we were staying nearby.
Pizza sounded good. So we pulled up outside Mykonos and ventured in.
Bright blue walls were covered in hundreds of hats, including some autographed by motorsport celebrities (much to my partner's delight). Horse racing was on a television in the corner but the entertainment was clearly Jordan Voudouris at work.
The first thing we noticed was his incredibly large moustache and hands flying everywhere - to the point where he almost appeared like a caricature of himself.
Prepared pizza bases were stored behind him. In front, dozens of containers of toppings. He would whip these bases out and lightly beat them before layering them generously with whatever topping necessary and placing them into the oven on his right-hand side.
"He's very organised," my partner said.
"He's awesome," I replied.
It was clear Mr Voudouris loved what he did and often smiled to himself as he worked. I noted there was a pizza named after him on the menu.
Mr Voudouris took time to teach the young girl who took our order how best to season pizzas and how much sauce to put on before handing the food over to customers.
He bantered with another girl who came in from out the back asking him to change horse racing for the All Blacks game.
He told her "no", because the customers would want her to be able to serve them. She joked back they could watch the rugby with her. He just laughed, she joined in. The horse racing remained.
I remarked on our pizza to my partner, saying "it's pretty good, alright."
He replied: "I'm sure he wants to hear it's more than 'pretty good'."
We chuckled because it was obvious Mr Voudouris was listening in from the counter. He had a laugh too.
Eventually, we got up to leave. Mr Voudouris thanked us and asked how our meal was.
"Very tasty, thanks so much," I said.
His thick moustache revealed a large smile underneath as he nodded and waved us goodbye.
"What a cool guy," I said to my partner outside.
Mr Voudouris' smiling moustache will be the last image I have of the man who was killed the following night at the back of his restaurant.
I didn't know him. I was just a customer. But I can't help but feel such sadness at his death. He was so memorable, I talked him up to workmates on Monday, unaware he had actually died.
I hate to think of the circumstances leading up to his death. I certainly hope the people responsible will be caught and held accountable. I can only imagine how devastated those who knew Mr Voudouris must feel.