Fast Food Market Entry is All Greek
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Fast Food Market Entry is All Greek

Atlanta’s first Great Greek Mediterranean Grill franchise opened last fall, just a stone’s throw from Cumberland Mall in a strip shopping center with easy parking.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Always reliable: house made hummus alongside a traditional falafel wrap at the Great Greek.
Always reliable: house made hummus alongside a traditional falafel wrap at the Great Greek.

With an affinity for Greek food, a collective “we” longs for the connectivity to a robust Israeli falafel, the ripe tomatoes, fresh cheeses, pita-like bread, hummus, gyros, kabobs, platters, herbed dressings, ending in a gooey, yet crisp, baklava.

Some of us “oldies” long for the days when the Joel Brenner’s Shipfiefer opened on Peachtree/Buckhead before expanding and crashing. Last fall, the Great Greek Mediterranean Grill entered the Atlanta dining scene with its first Georgia location at 3155 Cobb Parkway in Cumberland Point Center, with plans to soon open in Roswell on Holcomb Bridge Road.

Make no mistake, the Great Grill is a franchise with fast food that bills itself as “a modern take on classic tastes created from family recipes, contemporary and timeless.” It is not chef-driven nor a destination for a special occasion or romantic dining.

This classic Greek salad supported a grilled salmon fillet.

The franchise Great Greek concept bloomed from a friendship made in 2015 between a restaurateur and real estate exec in Nevada where they fell for a local restaurant’s family recipe for baklava ice cream. Backing up, the first Great Greek was founded by a Greek Armenian family in 2011. Locations now are independently owned and concentrated in California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and more, while the website lists many as “coming soon.”

Thinking about the market flood of chicken/Mexican/burger/bowl fast food franchises, those two friends were onto something tapping into the Mediterranean “pita wrap” market.

The Cumberland location seats 60 in 2,500 square feet which is spacious enough. There is free easy strip parking out front with a painted white brick walled interior. Entering hearing contemporary rap music could advance it up a notch substituted with lyrical Greek tunes, invoking belly dancers to establish the mood against the TVs on the wall.

Location is important in this space which does a robust business lunch crowd, offers easy access to Truist Park, and is walkable to the AMC Parkway Point movie complex. On a Sunday night, there were very few other diners. The staff was friendly as orders are taken at the register reading from the menu board on the wall behind, and later brought to the table.

Interesting and traditional appetizers were Tirokafteri, feta plus cream cheese with roasted papers and pita for $6.99; Melitzanosalata, roasted eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic served with pita $6.99; Dolmades grape leaves (rice based) $6.99; Tzatziki Greek yogurt, labne $6.99; Spanakopita, puff pastry with feta and spinach, and four dip combo $15.25. Of course, in-house-made hummus.

The Cobb Parkway location has a casual slant with white bricks accented by red chairs.

Our entrees were falafel ($10.99) and classic Greek salad with grilled salmon. There are plenty of mix and match and make your own options … sandwiches, some entrees that include side salad and choice of rice, French fries, or Feta fries. A Great Greek plate with falafel with all the works is $15.99. Of note, “next time, try lemon potatoes.”

The kid’s menu has grilled cheese pita, gyro plate $11.99, Souvlaki plate, and the requisite pizza at $7.99, all of which come with sides and a small drink.

A most unique, mouthwatering menu item was the baklava ($6.49) with thin layered walnuts and honey syrup atop a more finely blended dark bottom layer.

The baklava ice cream is a crowd pleaser for $6.99 with crumbled baklava folded in the cold vanilla bean “dream cream.” Mom’s rice pudding flavored with cinnamon is only 370 calories. Also on the dessert menu is unusual Kourabiedes cookies topped with powdered sugar.

Bottom line: The Great Greek is a welcomed addition to Atlanta’s casual fast food ‘scape with the right expectations. No need to dress up!

The Great Greek has a catering menu and is open seven days a week starting at 11 a.m. Items are indicated as gluten free, dairy free, or vegetarian. All items have calorie range indications. For more information, call 678-502-7779.

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