The Simple Greek, a franchise-based fast-casual Greek restaurant, opened Tuesday in West Hartford’s Corbin’s Corner.
By Ronni Newton
A new option for fast yet healthy food is now available in West Hartford’s Corbin’s Corner Shopping Center with the opening Tuesday of The Simple Greek, the area’s first fast-casual Greek restaurant.
And while this the first The Simple Greek location for new franchise owner George Chatzopoulos, it’s not his first foray into the restaurant business.
Chatzopoulos’ family owns Chip’s Family Restaurant, a small chain of Connecticut restaurants known for their pancakes and other breakfast foods. They just opened the sixth Chip’s location in Southington two weeks ago, Chatzopoulos said.
“We’ve been in the restaurant business for a long time,” he said, but when he first learned about the opportunity to get involved with The Simple Greek on the MSNBC show “The Prophet,” Chatzopoulos knew it was the right move.
“We eat Greek food every day,” said the native of Greece who now lives in Orange.
The Simple Greek’s menu – as the name implies – is straightforward. It’s full of healthy options with the opportunity to customize bowls or pitas to meet a diner’s appetite or dietary restrictions.
“There is lots of healthy stuff. Much of it is homemade and nothing is frozen,” Chatzopoulos said. Vegetables are a major focus of the menu.
“Greek cuisine is more about vegetables than anything else. It’s absolutely healthy,” said Chatzopoulos. “And we like to give options to people.”
The bowl can have a base of rice, lentils, or salad, while the pita choices are white and wheat. To that you can add hummus, Greek dressing, tzatziki, garlic cream, protein (traditional gyro, steak, chicken), and toppings like feta, pepperoncini, cucumbers, red onion, and more. “Finish” options include oregano, sea salt, olive oil, and vinegar.
Noting another fast-casual restaurant that’s across the parking lot in the same shopping center, Chatzopoulos said that The Simple Greek is “Chipotle-style service with authentic Greek food.” He said he thinks having two restaurants with a similar approach in the same shopping center will boost business for both.
In addition to its signature bowls and pitas, The Simple Greek includes a Greek yogurt bar featuring the company’s proprietary yogurt and toppings like dark chocolate, pistachios, walnuts, various fruits, and Greek honey.
The menu also includes spanakopita, Greek fries (deliciously seasoned with oregano, garlic salt, red wine vinegar and topped with feta cheese), garlic green beans, and dolmades.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s house-made rizogalo (rice pudding), as well as baklava and baklava cheesecake.
“We’re all authentic. We put our heart and soul into what we do,” said Bianca Giuliani, who manages the restaurant.
“We’re best known for our gyros,” she said, pronouncing the word “hee-rows.” Several signs listing the various pronunciations of the signature Greek dish hangs on the wall.
“And the Greek fries are awesome,” added Giuliani.
Chatzopoulos said he plans to eventually open 25 franchise locations of The Simple Greek. West Hartford is first, and plans are to open a Glastonbury location by September.
He said that West Hartford, which has a great restaurant community, was the best place to start.
The Simple Greek, located right next to Trader Joe’s in Corbin’s Corner, opened Tuesday at 11 a.m. for lunch, and will be open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. A grand opening, which will include a sizable charitable donation, will be held on June 15, Chatzopoulos said.
The Simple Greek is located at 1481 New Britain Ave. in Corbin’s Corner. For more information, visit The Simple Greek West Hartford’s website.
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