NORWALK, Conn. — Walking into the Simple Greek, which just opened at 440 Westport Ave. in Norwalk, is just like stepping onto the set of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” said George Pertesis, who owns the restaurant with his father John.
“Being Greek is who we are. It’s in our blood," said Pertesis. His father, John, his mother, Maria, and his sister, Christina, all work in the restaurant.
This is the seventh location of the Simple Greek but the first in Connecticut. The chain was founded in 2014 by Marcus Lemonis from CNBC-TV’s hit show “The Profit."
Open every day for lunch and dinner, the Simple Greek serves traditional Greek food, including bowls and pitas filled with gyro, lentils, chicken, pork and steak. Toppings include feta cheese, garbanzo beans, pitted Kalamata olives and pepperoncinis.
On the side, diners can enjoy hummus with pita, spanakopita and the restaurant's own Lemonis potatoes, which are lemon-marinated and baked potatoes. For dessert, take your choice of rizogalo -- a rice pudding — and baklava, which is made from phyllo dough, walnuts and honey.
“We are 100 percent Greek. We bleed blue and white,” said Pertesis, referring to the colors of the Greek flag.
Pertesis, whose mother was born and raised in Greece, went to Greece every summer as a child. He still travels there as often as he can, visiting his grandparents and other relatives. His family is from the island of Andros.
“This is a gorgeous idyllic mountainous island that's very accessible to the city of Athens. It’s very peaceful and quiet over there. Wherever you are on the island, you can see the ocean," he said.
"With the Simple Greek, we are bringing Andros to Norwalk, Connecticut," he said.
Pertesis, 23, graduated from Fairfield University with a bachelor's degree in finance and accounting. He lives in Trumbull with his parents, where his mother makes all the traditional Greek meals.
“I love it at home, I would be crazy to move out,” he said.
His favorite Greek dish made by mom is moussaka, “a blend of ground beef, eggplant and potatoes that all come together, exploding in your mouth.”
He is already looking to open additional locations of the Simple Greek in Stamford and Fairfield.
“This is my baby. Whenever I think of this restaurant, I get knots in my stomach," he said.
On Friday, the Simple Greek will have a grand opening with Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. The restaurant will offer $1 gyros from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The 2,000-square-foot restaurant, which seats 40, took over the location of the former Muscle Maker Grille.