Simply Greek Goes From Food Truck to Restaurant Without Losing the Magic

///Simply Greek Goes From Food Truck to Restaurant Without Losing the Magic

Simply Greek Goes From Food Truck to Restaurant Without Losing the Magic

Two years ago, restaurateur Terry Stamatakos and his wife moved from New York City to Houston to be closer to his wife’s family. He figured he would open a pizzeria here, as he had in New York. After looking around, he decided that Houston already had enough pizza joints, but what it didn’t have, he soon discovered, was a great Greek restaurant. “To be honest, I couldn’t find any good Greek food here,” Stamatakos said.

terry-stamatakos-simply-greek

Terry Stamatakos at the restaurant

To test the Houston market, Stamatakos decided to start a food truck. Based in Spring Branch, the truck traveled around the city, quickly acquiring a reputation among local foodies for its authentic gyros, falafel, and souvlaki platters. Within six months, the truck was besieged with customers at every stop, and Stamatakos was catering events as large as a 200-person wedding.

Devoted customers kept encouraging him to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. “People really liked us, they liked our food,” Stamatakos said, with obvious pride. “If it wasn’t for that, I would have kept the food truck. Because that was fun for me, traveling around town.”

Last October, Stamatakos gave up the truck in favor of a modest space in a strip center at the corner of Blalock and Campbell, which he decorated with photographs of sun-drenched Greek islands and fishing nets hanging from the wall. Although he was born in New York, Stamatakos grew up in Athens watching his mother and grandmother cook traditional Greek dishes. Having already learned the basics from them, he returned to New York in his 20s and enrolled at the Culinary Academy of Long Island.

simply-greek-counterAfter years of dividing his time between Greece and the U.S., Stamatakos and his wife moved to New York full-time about a decade ago, deciding—correctly, as it turned out—that the ailing Greek economy wouldn’t improve anytime soon. Although he enjoyed New York, Stamatakos now says he prefers Houston. “I love the people—everyone is so nice here,” he said. “In New York, everybody’s in a rush. Here they will stop and talk to you. Yes, it’s hot, but that’s better than snow.”

Simply Greek has proved to be every bit as popular as a brick-and-mortar restaurant as it was a food truck, even without advertising. On Friday and Saturday nights they host belly dancing, accompanied on Saturday by a live band; Stamatakos showed me a cell phone video of a raucous crowd packing the restaurant to hear music on a recent Saturday night. When asked why he thinks he’s been so successful, Stamatakos credits his strong work ethic (he estimates that he works 80 hours a week) and love of cooking:

“My wife and I are hands-on owners,” he said. “We’re here every day, and we take care of the customers. And we love what we do. If you don’t love what you do, if you’re just doing it for the money, you’re going to get burned out. But this is our passion.”

Simply Greek. 1900 Blalock Road. 713-614-7181. simplygreekhouston.com

 

By | 2016-10-17T11:44:30+00:00 May 17th, 2016|Business, Business Spotlight|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Caryn Landauer June 10, 2016 at 7:39 am - Reply

    When traveling around Westview and Campbell area I would always stop by and get a gyro. I was sad to see them move their food truck as was great when I was in between appointments in the neighborhood. However am very happy to see them open a restaurant which I’ve been frequenting.

    Their food is great…

    Caryn Landauer

Leave A Comment

At this time of year, we receive inquiries regarding your annual assessment statement and when payment is due. Typically, the assessment statements are mailed out immediately after the District's last board meeting of the year.

In order to avoid penalty and interest (which accrues on February 1st), your annual assessment payment must be postmarked by January 31st.

Payments should be made payable to the District and mailed to:
Equi-Tax Inc.
Tax Assessor/Collector
P. O. Box 73109
Houston, TX 77273

Please do NOT mail or deliver assessment payments to the management district office.

You may also obtain a copy of your statement at www.equitaxinc.com

For information regarding your billing, please call the Equi-Tax Customer Service Line at 281-444-3946 from Mon-Thur 8 am until 4:30 pm.

For information regarding ownership, address or appraised value, please call the Harris County Appraisal District at 713-957-7800.