Photo Gallery | Grecian Gyro in $20
ATLANTA – Nick Koulouris opened the Grecian Gyro Greek restaurant almost 30 years ago on Virginia Avenue in Hapeville. Back then, Hapeville was just a quaint south Atlanta neighborhood with a community feel and a host of ‘mom and pop’ dining establishments.
Now, Hapeville is a bustling city with the world largest airport down the road, the Delta Airlines corporate business hub in the other direction, new establishments popping up every week and a Porsche test track moving in by next year.
Nick, a Greek immigrant came to America for job opportunities after he served in the Greek Army for two years as a chef. Shortly thereafter, Nick moved his family to Hapeville and opened a one man restaurant; which is currently the site of Grecian Gyro. The restaurant opened in 1982 and was established as a ‘made to order’ restaurant, as it has remained.
According to his son George, who currently acts as managing business partner of the Grecian Gyro, “He would literally cook your food to order and because he didn’t have supplies he would hand cut your fries. He was ahead of the curve.”
George, who went to Oglethorpe University and worked in corporate marketing, grew up in the restaurant. He said his brother Pano grew up on the counter in front of the ice machine. George and all of his siblings have managed to make a ‘full-circle’ back into the family ‘enterprice’; the Koulouris sister manages the Forest Park location.
“Some customers hug me like they’re my aunt or a family member. My dad is even friends with the customers”, says George.
Since 1982, the restaurant has grown to three locations and they look to franchise by the end of the month. George and his brother Pano have opened locations in Forest Park and Tucker, independently, and they aren’t afraid that franchising will compromise their integrity.
“I think we have a really good strategy for keeping the restaurants genuine. Nick still makes the spice blends and does a lot with quality assurance,” George says.
The restaurant has a loyal following and the Koulouris’s are hoping the rest of Atlanta embraces the Grecian Gyro experience like Forest Park, Tucker and Hapeville have.
Every Tuesday, the Where U Live team chooses a Metro Atlanta restaurant and with the restaurant's help, shows you how you can sample the menu without spending too much.
George suggests the Spanakopita is a starter. The Spanikopita is a mixture of feta and spinach baked into a pocket of flaky phyllo dough and it’s, also, George’s favorite Greek food. He says his grandmother used to make them better than ‘any he had ever tasted’ and when looking for a distributor he found a bakery that does them better than his grandmother. The Spanikopita costs $2.00
As a main dish, George suggests the Gyro Plate. The Gyro Plate consists of gyro meat, salad, imported Kalamata olives from Nick’s hometown, and fried-then-grilled seasoned potatoes with Nick’s Greek Sauce. The gyro used at the restaurant is a combination of beef and lamb meat and it's flame broiled on a spindle then grilled. The Gyro Plates costs $9.00
George, also, suggests the Hummus with Grilled Pita Bread. The hummus is a garlic chickpea hummus topped with a Kalamata olive and a pepperocini. The hummus is served with whole wheat pita bread; it costs $3.00
And to finish off your meal, George suggests the Baklava. He said that while growing up, the restaurant had only one dessert and the Baklava was it. The dessert was named Best Dessert in Atlanta on CitySearch, which is user generated. The Baklava is constructed with honey, walnuts, phyllo and cinnamon. It can be purchased for $2.00 per slice.
If you want to take a piece of Grecian Gyro home take a Chicken Wrap. The Chicken Wrap is crafted with boneless, skinless, marinated, grilled chicken and put together with onion, tomatoes, Nick’s sauce, and red peppers and wrapped in pita bread. The Chicken Wrap only costs $5.00