Greece to India – Residing Lakewood :: SRQ Journal Article by Abby Weingarten

The households behind Apollonia Grill and Tandoor Tremendous Indian Delicacies in Cooper Creek.

Eddie Yzeiri of Apollonia Grill.

Grilling up a storm of culinary delights for College Park patrons for almost a decade with its recent Mediterranean delicacies, Apollonia Grill within the Cooper Creek space is the satisfaction of the Yzeiri household. “Apollonia was opened with a imaginative and prescient to carry genuine Greek Mediterranean meals to our space. We wished to supply high-quality recipes however in an approachable and pleasant setting,” says Eddie Yzeiri, Apollonia’s supervisor, who has labored within the restaurant trade for greater than 20 years. “Cooking Greek and Mediterranean meals is acquainted to me as a result of it’s the meals I grew up with. A whole lot of our recipes are household recipes or dishes which have advanced and improved over time.” Eddie Yzeiri and his household additionally owned El Greco Café on Most important Road in downtown Sarasota earlier than launching the Apollonia locale in The Shoppes at UTC.

Working a restaurant has all the time been a collaborative effort. “My mom and father opened the restaurant each morning—making the soups, sauces and getting the restaurant began. Once we bought in there, the kitchen was prepared for cooking and the eating room was prepared for friends to return in,” Eddie Yzeiri says. “I labored within the kitchen and my brother labored within the eating room. Each of our wives performed a key position in welcoming friends and guaranteeing that that they had a optimistic expertise.” At the moment, at Apollonia, these roles have advanced, particularly because the begin of the pandemic. “When eating places shut down throughout COVID, it was a really scary time. Our total household trusted the success of the restaurant; there was no different earnings,” Eddie Yzeiri says. “However we made it by, being there for one another and staying sturdy. Our crew has grown however we’re nonetheless concerned within the day-to-day operations.” As a follow-up to the 2013 opening of the primary Apollonia, the Yzeiris began a second location in The Landings in 2019.

The Apollonia menu, at each locales, is wealthy with beloved objects. “Our Lamb Shank Osso Bucco (braised leg of lamb with greens, herbs and pink wine) is a dish that’s fairly labor-intensive to make and the top result’s this flavorful, tremendous tender and scrumptious shank that’s memorable,” Eddie Yzeiri says. “The Saganaki Cheese is all the time a visitor favourite—not solely very tasty but it surely comes with a present by lighting it on fireplace in entrance of friends.” Lamb chops, kebabs, branzino, lobster pasta and moussaka are additionally among the many steadfast staples. However there’s all the time extra to return.

“We’re very excited for the longer term. We’re planning on doing a renovation within the restaurant at The Shoppes at UTC,” Eddie Yzeiri says. “Together with that, we intend on revamping our menus, and introducing some new and thrilling dishes. We’re all the time persevering with to enhance.” 

 Greece to India – Residing Lakewood :: SRQ Journal Article by Abby Weingarten

Poonam Maini has walked a triumphant path to the place she is now—from rising up in a small village in India to pioneering the profitable Tandoor Tremendous Indian Delicacies on Cooper Creek Boulevard. Maini initially launched Tandoor on Clark Highway in 2001 earlier than relocating to The Shoppes at UTC in 2013, and the restaurant will probably be transferring to an expanded area this fall. However doing all this—on her personal—has not been a straightforward endeavor. “My motivation to work arduous was offering a life for my kids,” Maini says.

Maini grew up in a village referred to as Garhdiwala in India and entered an organized marriage when she was in her teenagers (she even gave a TED discuss her expertise a couple of years in the past in New York). She got here to america in 1989 and ultimately settled in Florida, however began Tandoor after her divorce. Maini had three kids to assist (Milen, now 34; Shamini, now 31; and Shubi, now 24), and her daughters labored together with her as servers and hosts within the flagship location. Now her son, Shubi, co-runs Tandoor together with his mom.
This household culinary custom has a prolonged historical past. “I grew up consuming the forms of objects I serve now at Tandoor. My dad was a really passionate cook dinner—not knowledgeable cook dinner however he cherished cooking,” Maini says. “I really like cooking. As a younger woman, after I needed to decide a chore,

I picked cooking. I simply cherished being round my dad within the kitchen.” Butter rooster, rooster tikka masala, lamb rogan josh, tandoori rooster and spicy biryani—all dishes with familial roots—are a few of Tandoor’s cherished specialties.

And Maini is as concerned within the restaurant trade as she is within the nonprofit sphere.

She based the Share Care World group in 2017—an initiative that provides wholesome meals and academic alternatives to poor folks in her residence village in India (particularly girls and youngsters). The group additionally helps train girls methods to turn into entrepreneurs. Maini hopes to sooner or later open a hospital and orphanage within the village, too.
“Each meal we promote at Tandoor, it gives a meal to somebody in our meals shelter; that’s about 400 meals a day,” Maini says. “Earlier than I die, even when there are 5 individuals who say ‘Poonam helped change our lives,’ that provides me function. I work very arduous every single day as a result of I understand how many individuals rely upon Tandoor—not simply my 20 crew members but in addition the folks we assist in India. That evokes me to work tougher. It brings me peace and makes me blissful.”

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