The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has quietly emerged as one of the country’s fastest-growing small restaurant chains in recent years, in part by offering a higher level of service at a time when many customers are focused on takeout.
The chain menus classic Mediterranean cuisine like Gyros, Lamb Souvlaki and Falafel. While customers order at the counter, they wait at a table where the meal will be staged out to them, starting with appetizers. When customers are finished, they simply get up and leave while employees clear the table.
“We feel like it’s the closest thing to a full-service environment in a fast-casual setting. People can get the same level of service, but they don’t have to pay for service tips,” Company President Bob Anderson said in an interview.
He added that the 19-unit Florida-based chain has thrived due to Great Greek’s food quality and experience
“We really embrace our brand vision, which is live life deliciously, which means that guests come in and really enjoy not just our food but the overall experience of our restaurant. That’s the driving force behind the brand,” Anderson said.
According to data from Restaurant Business’ sister publication Technomic, the chain saw a 61.2% increase in sales in 2021 and an 11.85% increase in unit count. Anderson said Great Greek is looking to expand its reach to about 17 states by the end of the year.
“We have a long history and track record of success, of being able to thrive, whether we’re in a very good economic environment or challenging economic environment,” he said, “This year we expect to open 20-25 restaurants. Next year another 35-45 restaurants and hit the one hundred million system-wide sales mark probably around mid-next-year,” he said.
The quality of food and the size of stores has attracted operators to The Great Greek, according to Anderson.
“We don’t need a lot of space, not a tremendous amount of development costs compared to other restaurants, our leases and rents are less compared to other restaurants,” he said. “The last thing that attracts operators to us is, we don’t need a lot of people. Although we have a menu that is appealing to many people, we don’t have a tremendous amount of items. It’s easy to execute, we don’t need a lot of employees in our restaurant. It’s a really nice environment and atmosphere to work in, to manage, to lead.”
Inflationary pressures have led to challenges for restaurants everywhere and Anderson said that as a response, Great Greek has focused on driving value to customers.
“Right now, our focus is on driving value to the customer because as inflationary pressure eats into discretionary income or the amount of money they have to eat out, this is going to be really important. Our feeling is that people are not going to have as much money to eat out so they’re going to be very selective in their choices,” Anderson said.
Despite the period of inflation, Anderson said Great Greek has found success in opening and staffing new stores.
“Having the ability to attract people and put them into business, open restaurants and get them staffed up in this environment has been very challenging and I would say we have done it better than most,” he said.
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