A new Mediterranean restaurant will open next year inside the space once occupied by Downtown’s dining staple, Souvlaki House, which served its last gyro about three months ago. And the owners of Greek Xpress, who operate a like-named eatery in Park Slope, said their spot’s Hellenic cuisine will make its customers salivate — just like its beloved predecessor’s did for 45 years.
“We’re really excited to serve the community, and can’t wait to see our customers and greet them with great food,” said co-owner Jimmy Soursos. “We have our own concept and identity, but it will be very similar to what was previously here.”
Workers are busy gutting the former Greek grill on Lawrence Street, replacing all of its appliances and wires in preparation for the new fast-casual joint’s grand opening, Soursos said, which should be sometime around February.
“Everything will be brand new,” he said.
The Greece-y spoon will serve up thin lamb strips sliced from a rotating spit as well as pork and chicken sticks, but its wallet-friendly menu offers plenty of options to non-meat-eating Mediterranean-food lovers, too, the co-owner said.
“It’ll be really high-quality, affordable Greek fare,” said Soursos. “More refined and modern, with a much more flexible menu as far as vegetarians.”
The beloved Souvlaki House opened off Fulton Mall in 1972, but its owner Theo Karabelas cashed out earlier this fall and likely packed his bags to enjoy retirement on the Mediterranean Sea in his native Greece, according to the building’s landlord Tommy Mamounas.
The property owner, who will co-own Greek Xpress with Soursos, said he partnered with the operator of the Prospect Park West grub hub because he wanted to keep a Greek kitchen in the nabe.
“We wanted to honor the past and also embrace the future at the same time. People love the gyro, they love Greek cuisine,” Mamounas said. “Souvlaki House was here for such a long time, we wanted to keep that trend going and we were lucky enough to find somebody like Jimmy and his company Greek Xpress. Hopefully it’ll be a good marriage.”
Loyal patrons of the longtime staple also hope the new joint will measure up, according to a neighbor who works nearby and said he loved chowing down on Souvlaki House’s classic gyro and fries a few times a month.
“I miss his food, he was a nice guy, and there were nice people working there,” said Tony Gonsalves, an employee of a tattoo parlor a few storefronts away.
Greek Xpress (158 Lawrence St. between Fulton and Willoughby streets in Downtown, www.greek
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