By Abby Ott
Niko Zaharopoulos knows Greek food, and after years of his friends encouraging him, he came to Jackson and helped open Niko’s Greek-Italian Café.
Zaharopoulos, a native of Athens, Greece, moved to America in 1969. He has done numerous things in his lifetime — from working in the movies to restaurant consulting. After managing a number of restaurants, Zaharopoulos wanted to finally manage an inexpensive, quality Greek restaurant.
Since Zaharopoulos knows the owners of Popeye’s, he is located directly behind the Cajun fast-food chain on North Highland. Although Niko’s stands amidst chain restaurants such as Popeye’s, McDonald’s and Long John Silver’s, the local Mediterranean restaurant is anything but fast-food.
Zaharopoulos said he wishes to provide all in the Jackson community with “good, quality ethnic food at a low cost to customers.”
“Inexpensive” and “quality” are words not normally used together, but Zaharopoulos said he believes it is possible to bring both elements to the table.
The café maintains Zaharopoulos’s views on reasonability and offers practically priced appetizers, entrées and desserts. The main entrées vary in price but are still economical. In addition, many items on the menu can be shared, cutting the cost of the meal in half. All entrees come with a large side salad, a side item and bread.
The menu offers a variety of options for children and even the hard to please. Finding something on the menu that catches one’s eye is not a difficult task, as a result of the varied choices consisting of American, Italian and Greek dishes.
The restaurant’s meal choices are comprised of various dinner entrees, soups, pizzas, sandwiches and salads. The starters include traditional Greek dishes, such as spanakopitakia, hummus and gyro bites, among other Mediterranean and American appetizers. The spanakopitakia, a pastry filled with spinach and feta, comes in a pair, both a decent size and perfect for two people.
Niko’s is not just a date-night hot spot; it is also a place with a family-friendly atmosphere.
When dining at Niko’s, the hospitable wait staff treats customers like family. They will answer any questions about the menu, since some dishes may not be familiar.
Healthy options are also available if one is looking to eat on the lighter side. Items of indulgence, such as homemade baklava, a sweet pastry made with phyllo dough, are also menu choices. Vegetables can be grilled instead of fried, and the zucchini is recommended.
Many changes will be made as Niko’s progresses and grows as a restaurant. For now, Zaharopoulos said he feels he wants to “build it little by little and educate customers.”
He said he is surprised by the community’s knowledge of Mediterranean food. Zaharopoulos said he feels the Jackson community has been receptive to the restaurant.
“I have to think before I change things,” Zaharopoulos said. “I listen to customers, then I find something practical to do (about what they want).”