Entering the offices of Peninsula Pediatric Dentistry, a division of Hampton Roads Pediatric Dentistry, where Dr. Bobby Garofalis spends most of his working hours, it is understandable why little tykes are intrigued. The waiting room is filled with bright artwork, fascinating toys and the child-height TV tuned to cartoons.
“Dr. Bobby,” as patients and their parents know him, has spent 15 years in the practice of pediatric dentistry. He strives to calm the fears of his young patients, providing a colorful, child-friendly environment. “Sometimes parents are anxious too,” he adds. “I want the experience to be as positive as possible.” He owns a portion of the business, which now has eight offices—Gloucester, Williamsburg, Peninsula, and Southside. Garofalis’s wife Aleksandra is practice administrator. “I actually like ‘hopping’ among offices,” Garofalis says. “I think change is good.”
Garofalis is very involved in the Greek community on the Virginia Peninsula. “I am proud of my heritage,” he says. “My parents came here from Crete. I am a first-born immigrant child.” Though he grew up helping at the family restaurant, Garofalis knew he wanted to be in the medical field.
Earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in 1998, Garofalis majored in biology and religious studies. “I enjoyed learning about Byzantine art and felt it was a nice balance,” he says. Garofalis’s dental degree is from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, and he completed his two-year residency in pediatric dentistry at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Garofalis developed his business sense working in the family restaurant, Gus’s Hot Dog King in Newport News. “My first job at age nine was refilling the Cheese Whiz bottles,” he says with a smile. “I moved through various jobs (cleaning tables, working the register) until I was ready to operate the fry basket—then short order cook. It was fast-paced,” he says. Garofalis’s brother, George, is still involved with the restaurant. “It is doing well,” he adds.
Dr. Bobby loves his pediatric practice. “We are unique because we take young patients who are fearful and slowly introduce them to the dental experience,” Garofalis says. “It’s very rewarding to take a patient through this whole dental experience and have him or her leave the dental chair feeling good about returning for the next visit.”
Garofalis’s full name is Haralambos Konstantin. Konstantin is a family name and he has passed it on to his son. The nickname for Haralambos is “Babis,” and this is where “Bobby” came from. Garofalis travels to Crete at least once a year. “It is beautiful,” he says. “The water is unbelievably blue. There are more than 2,000 islands, 150 inhabited. I have visited only eight.” He has 28 first cousins; some have visited the U.S.
Garofalis speaks Greek fluently. It was his first language, but his English is unaccented. “I use Greek every day,” he says. Garofalis also speaks “Greenglish,” which is a mixture of Greek and English. In conversation with family the two languages are intermingled, jumping back and forth, usually in the same sentence.
Garofalis is very active in the local Greek community. He serves as head director of the Hellenic Youth Dancers. “There are 80 dancers who range from
3 years old to 42. I am the oldest,” he says with a smile. “We prepare for the festivals and we also enter competitions. The first group of dancers was formed 30 years ago. I believe we provide a positive impact on the community, combining tradition, culture and faith. I am happy that this is an activity that I can enjoy with my son.”
Garofalis likes to vacation at the beach, especially the Outer Banks. “I would like to visit Crete more often. I love the food! I try to eat healthy,” he says. Garofalis lifts weights three times a week and does hot yoga. Rome, Paris, Australia and Istanbul are on Garofalis’s “someday” list. “My wife is from Serbia, so we will also go there,” he adds.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I have in America,” says Garofalis. “I also like being part of a small community with a special heritage,” he adds.
TO THE POINT:
H. Bobby Garofalis, D.D.S.
Hampton Roads Pediatric Dentistry
Address: 220 Nat Turner Blvd. S., Newport News VA 23606