Fort Mill Times

‘Fresh, fast and delicious’: That’s the idea driving Tega Cay’s new Greek restaurant

Nick Pahountis recently opened Gréco Fresh Grille at 1143 Stonecrest Blvd. in Tega Cay.
Nick Pahountis recently opened Gréco Fresh Grille at 1143 Stonecrest Blvd. in Tega Cay.

Greek food: fast, fresh, delicious. That’s the concept behind Tega Cay’s newest restaurant, Gréco Fresh Grille.

The Fort Mill area was apparently ready for the unique flavors of Greek cuisine. Owner Nick Pahountis said he had a soft opening at the restaurant, which is next to Tega Cay Deli, Dec. 23 and the response was immediate.

“The minute that door opened, within half an hour, the restaurant was filled up,” he said. “I was ecstatic.”

Everything is homemade at the restaurant. The fries are handcut every day, and come in three flavors – sea salt, lemon and oregano and cumin with garlic. The hummus is made in-house, with garlic, lemon rosemary and chipotle flavors available. Platters with lamb, chicken or falafel are served with Greek salad and fries.

Gyros are stuffed with fresh ingredients and complimented with the Greek staple – a homemade tzatziki sauce, made from shredded cucumber and lots of garlic for added bite. The salads are dressed lightly, with imported Greek olive oil, vinegar and oregano.

“The olive oil just makes it,” Pahountis said.

A sampler, the Mezze platter, is a flavorful introduction to Greek food – three pieces of spinach pie with a light, crispy phyllo crust, olives, cubes of tangy feta, hummus, pita bread and dolmades – grape leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings.

Burgers, kebobs, salads and Greek desserts like baklava and galaktompoureko are also on the menu.

Pahountis’ personal favorite is the peasant salata, a traditional, lettuce-free salad with tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, green peppers, kalamata olives and feta tossed in Greek vinaigrette and dried oregano, topped with a chicken kebob (souvlaki).

The restaurant is not gluten-free, but gluten-free options are available. In the future, Pahountis said he plans on offering daily specials. Whole wheat pita can be substituted for white flour pita.

The restaurant space, which previously housed La Fornarina Italian Cuisine, has been redone in shades of blue, gray and silver. Pahountis’ own photography, taken during his yearly trips to Greece, hangs on the walls.

Pahountis, 59, is a first-generation Greek-American, whose father, Louis, immigrated to the U.S. after World War II from the island of Karpathos, near Crete. Louis went into the restaurant business in New York. His three sons followed him.

“My dad was my idol and my mentor,” Pahountis said. “My dad put me to work when I was 14. I grew up in it. It’s a grueling business.”

Pahountis went to college and spent about 10 years in the corporate world, working at New York City marketing firms.

“I decided it wasn’t for me,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Pahountis returned to the restaurant business because he likes being his own boss, he said. He started a venture, Diner, with his brothers in New Jersey, with the trio opening three locations there.

Pahountis moved to Charlotte two years, where his brother, Bill, started Gréco Fresh Grille in the Queen City. The chain now has three locations in Charlotte, and Pahountis’ is the first in South Carolina.

“This is my first venture, solo,” Pahountis said. “So far, it’s been a dream come true for me Everyone has been so nice to me. This community – everyone has gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable. It’s just been blowing my mind.”

Gréco Fresh Grille, 1143 Stonecrest Blvd., is open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For details, call 803-396-2949. Visit them on Facebook.