Photo by Chelsea Patterson Walker
Athens Pizza (located in Decatur—the name refers to Greece, not the home of the Bulldogs) has been in Sandy Papadopoulos’s family for 50 years and he’s celebrating—first with a party at the restaurant on Saturday and later with a new Greek and Mediterranean spot called Karv. Set to open in 2017, Karv is a partnership with Nicholas Sousounis, Kyma’s general manager, and will serve “old-school recipes centered around the rotisserie.”
Diners will be able to pick their protein and then select a base (such as pita, kale bowl, quinoa bowl, or salad), along with toppings and sauces. Frozen Greek yogurt will be available for dessert. As for drinks, Papadopoulos envisions Mediterranean beer like Peroni, Fix, and Ethos, and Spanish, Greek and Italian wines. A sample menu is below.
- Karv kebab—a combination of chorizo, ground lamb, and beef
- Moroccan spiced chicken (rotisserie)
- Yogurt and herb-crusted leg of lamb (rotisserie)
- Traditional pork souvlaki (on a stick)
- Braised kale bowl with chickpeas and sundried tomatoes
- Karv Q salad—quinoa salad mixed with diced tomatoes and cucumbers, Kalamata olives, and feta
- Karv salad—mixed greens and arugula with heirloom tomatoes
- Basmati rice
- Spiced crispy red onions and radish
- Marinated tomatoes
- Eggplant stew
- Marinated mushrooms
- Htipiti—roasted red pepper feta spread
- Pistachio skordalia
- Beetziki—beet-infused tzatziki
- Serrano caper chimi
- Smokey tomato
- Grilled lemon aioli
Papadopoulos shares his vision for the new restaurant and details on Saturday’s party.
What’s on tap for the celebration?
It’s the 50th anniversary of existence between Connecticut and Atlanta [40 years in Atlanta]. That’s a pretty big deal when these people came from Greece with two kids without knowing the language and made something of themselves. Fifty years of business is a huge deal!
We are planning a big party with live music, a Greek beer and wine tasting [$15 per person], and a Jekyll and Eagle Rock tasting [$10]. We’re rolling out the Karv menu for people to have a taste of the rotisserie meats, sides, and sauces [free]. From noon to 8 p.m. we’re doing buy one get one free pizzas and one free Greek salad per order. It’s a celebration of what my parents have done and what Athens Pizza means to the community.
What (if any) changes are in the works for Athens Pizza?
Everyone wants us to bottle our Greek dressing. We’ll probably do that by the end of the year. By the end of the year we will likely revamp our menu to make it a little more health conscious with more salads and fresh sandwiches. The gyros and pastas will still be there but we’ll offer some different sides as opposed to just fried stuff.
What’s your inspiration for Karv?
I’m from Greece. A lot of people assume Greek food is seafood-oriented, but we pride ourselves in the simplicity of how we prepare our meats. There are a lot of places in Greece that have fresh lamb chops and pork and are basically farm to table. We do a lot of rotisserie meats and meat on a stick. It’s easier to prepare, serve and eat. We wanted to express that part of the Mediterranean and Greek cuisine. Growing up, grilling meats was an integral part of the Easter celebration so I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.
After 50 years, how did you decide this was right time to start a new restaurant?
I’m only 43—still young enough to do something on my own along with other people knowledgeable about the restaurant business. Nicholas [Sousounis] has a Greek background and knows the business from working at Kyma. There’s a market for protein pushing, and gluten-free, fresh, good food. A lot of people are looking for Mediterranean food now as well. We wanted something that would be quick and easy for someone to pick up and eat on the run, or for a family to pick up 2 pounds of pork or half a chicken and some sides to take home with them for lunch or dinner.
Tell me about your partnership with Nicholas. Will he be leaving Kyma?
This will be the move he makes on his own with me. He will be leaving Kyma when he feels the time is right and we have a signed lease. It’s unfortunate for Kyma but a good move on his part.
Nicholas is more on the operations side. I know what I want as far as recipes, flavor profiles, and cooking. The chef–I can’t mention who it is yet–will execute. Between the three of us, there’s a ton of experience.
Will the new restaurant be located near Athens Pizza in Decatur?
[No], we wanted to test it in an area with more families, hospitals, and businesses around. We’re looking at four or five spots right now and hoping to do something in Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Midtown, or Brookhaven. We want to make sure the first one is a home run because we plan on opening a couple of these around the city. We’re looking to open in spring or fall 2017.
How will the space be set up?
You’ll order your food at the counter and after that you’re ours. It’s not a stuffy place. We want it to be casual and free. The rotisserie will be a focal point when you walk into the restaurant. It’ll appeal to all five senses. You’ll be able to feel the warmth, [detect] the smells, see the sights. It’ll have a lot of warm elements—a lot of wood. It’ll have a Mediterranean rustic look. It won’t be too dark–just earthy with red and orange tones.