Authentic Greek cuisine from 3 cousins named Nick

Nick the Greek

Nick the Greek, which opened its doors in Marina del Rey at the beginning of August, is the brainchild of not one but three cousins named Nick, including “Baby Nick,” Nick Tsigaris.

“It’s silly, but when all three cousins are at an opening, we love to watch people’s reactions when we introduce ourselves,” Tsigaris said.

“One at a time, we’ll say, ‘Hi, my name is Nick,’ and the reactions we get from people when they think we are messing with them will never get old.”

The concept for the now-franchised Nick the Greek was born in 2012 after Tsigaris returned home from his annual trip to the Greek village where his parents were born. The three cousins opened their first modern souvlaki/gyro house in Downtown San Jose two years later.

During the past nine years, their brand has multiplied into more than 50 franchises across California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Kansas and Missouri, with over a dozen new locations coming soon.

“Greek food is becoming more and more popular around the U.S.,” Tsigaris said. “And candidly, there aren’t many gyro places that serve authentic Greek street food. We knew that if we kept it simple and made authentic Greek food accessible, the demand would speak for itself, and it would be easy to expand across the country.”

The three cousins follow in their fathers' footsteps, who launched a chain of popular cafes called Flames Coffeeshop in the late ’90s and early 2000s in the San Jose area.

“The three of us grew up together in our fathers’ restaurants, so partnering on our own project, Nick the Greek, felt like a natural step for us to take together,” Tsigaris said.

“Our fathers served as the inspiration. Despite coming to this country with nothing, they were able to open eight restaurants, so when given the chance, we wanted to open a concept that paid tribute to that heritage.” 

The Nick the Greek menu features gyros, pitas, plates, bowls, salads, fries (with feta and garlic), sides and, for dessert, froyo topped with drizzled honey and chunks of baklava.

The protein choices are 80% beef/20% lamb, pork belly, chicken and falafel, and a veggie (grilled zucchini and mushrooms) option. A Greek burger with melted feta on a brioche bun is also available.

“Truthfully, the process of creating the menu was easy because we wanted our offerings to be as authentic as possible, so we opted to stick to menu items that you would find in your typical gyro joint in Greece,” Tsigaris said.

“Historically, the most popular item is the classic beef/lamb gyro pita, but when we released our gyro bowl, it immediately became a fan favourite,” Tsigaris said.

“Gyro bowls aren’t typically something you would find in Greece, but it was something our customers were craving, and it has performed very well.” 

Nick the Greek joins a few other eateries, including Rubio’s Coastal Grill and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, in the corner mini-mall at Lincoln Boulevard and Maxella Avenue. The restaurant held a soft opening Aug. 3. Although still in the process of training, servers mingled around the dining area, a mix of high- and low-top tables, checking on customers and offering suggestions about sauces ranging from tzatziki to spicy yogurt to honey mustard, which pairs nicely with the chicken dishes.

“Ultimately, to be in this business, you must have the passion for food and serving others,” Tsigaris said. “When the passion is there, there is truly nothing better than seeing customers leaving happy.”

Nick the Greek

4254 Lincoln Boulevard,

Marina Del Rey California

nickthegreek.com

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