Greek eatery breaks mold

Greek eatery breaks mold

A gyro Philly cheese steak isn’t a typical item you’ll find on the menu at most Greek sandwich shops, but the newly opened The Greek Place is not your typical Greek sandwich shop.

“I wanted to bring that Greek-American twist to traditional Greek food,” said owner and chef Peter Kontoulakos. “Most Greek places just serve Greek food. I understand we’ll have high school kids in here so I wanted to have something for them, which is why I also have chicken fingers, giant pretzels, mozzarella sticks, and chicken wings. I want kids to come here.”

Located at 2144 Jericho Turnpike, in Garden City, The Greek Place held its grand opening last week.

Kontoulakos has owned nine restaurants in the past and said the customers he has gotten so far at The Greek Place have been the best ever.

“As many restaurants as I’ve I had, I don’t think I’ve ever met nice people then in this village,” Kontoulakos said. “Everyone is so friendly and it makes it so much better. I was also very humbled to see the chamber president and (Nassau County) Legislator Richard Nicollelo here today. It made me believe that they care and it meant a lot to me.”

Decorated walls of blue and white line the interior of The Greek Place, with grape leaves strung around the ceilings. It’s mainly a takeout and delivery shop, and has a few tables available. For the children there are two video game machines located at the front of the restaurant.

A gyro sells for $5.95 or you can build your own sandwich for $9.95. Options on the menu include burgers, personal pita pizzas, specialty hero sandwiches and salads, specialty items, beverages and desserts.

The name of the shop is something of a funny story Kontoulakos said.

“Every time I opened up a new restaurant whether it be Athena, Calypso or the Parthenon, people always ended up referring to it as ‘the Greek place,'” Kontoulakos said. “I figured any new place I opened would end up in the same way, so I decided to just go with a name that works for everyone.”

In the past Kontoulakos and his father would buy restaurants, gut them, turn them around and then sell them, he said.

The New Hyde Park location is where he wants to stay for one reason – he is getting married to his childhood sweetheart and is ready to settle down.

“We met in kindergarten and we even have a photo of the two of us kissing when we were only four,” Kontoulakos said as his fiancé Marcia brought out a photo of the two children kissing. “We lost contact when I moved to East Meadow and she moved to New Hyde Park when we were in fourth grade. It wasn’t until 28 years later that I wanted to see what had happened to her and ended finding her through Facebook.”

Three years after Kontoulakos reunited with Marcia, they decided to get married. The ceremony will take place next week.

Growing up in Jamaica Queens Kontoulakos’ love for food began when he was only 10 years old and looking to make some dinner for himself.

“I took my father’s cookbook and decided I was going to make something,” Kontoulakos said. “I decided to make chicken cacciatore, and followed the directions to a T. I got everything together and had dinner ready by the time my parents came home. At first my mom thought I had ordered the food, but it was a creation I made. Ever since then I knew what I wanted to do.”

Kontoulakos said he has worked in every restaurant position possible throughout the years, and has used his skills to create unique items.

His tomato balsamic vinaigrette is a creation that he said took years to perfect, and was a recipe he wasn’t about to share. It can be served as a dressing, comes on the Athena sandwich and can be used as a wing sauce.

Chicken wings are another specialty that Kontoulakos adds his personal touch to as people can choose from wings made with spicy creamy feta, lemon oregonata and creamy spinach feta.

“These aren’t not your typical bar wings,” Kontoulakos said.

His Zeus sandwich is a recipe he got straight from Sparta, Greece when he was visiting one year.

The Greek Place has one particular item that is only found within four or five restaurants across the country Kontoulakos said. The “Potato Twist” is a whole potato sliced and twisted onto a wooden skewer that is then deep fried in low fat canola oil and served with a side of melted cheddar cheese.

Another feature Kontoulakos said was important is the free delivery and curb-side service the shop offers.

“I did the curb side for those parents who come out with a car full of kids, and I don’t want them to have search for a parking spot and have to bring everyone in with them,” Kontoulakos said. “We also offer a Wifi credit-card machine people can use on deliveries. A lot of people aren’t comfortable giving their credit number over the phone, so this way when we come to their house they can just swipe their card.”

Kontoulakos said he wants people to feel comfortable at his restaurant and feel like family. He said he also hopes to help out in the community again with coaching football, or helping out in PAL league.

Kontoulakos said takes pride in the food at his restaurant and personally guarantees the quality of every item on the menu.

“I would not sell you something I don’t think tastes great,” Kontoulakos said.

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