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Taste of Greece a Mainstay in Charleston
photo: dining

In 1972, Spiro Fokas and Steve Ferderigos put together their old-country skills to open Old Towne Grill & Seafood in downtown Charleston.

The tasty recipes they grew up with in Kefalonia, a small isle off the west coast of Greece, were an instant hit in this American city by the sea, and the entrepreneurial brothers-in-law and their eatery soon became a success story. Today, not only does Old Towne, 229 King St., serve the Charleston area, but so do two other family-inspired restaurants: North Towne Grill & Seafood in North Charleston and Zeus Grill & Seafood in Mount Pleasant.

The recent decision to open the third restaurant, Zeus in Mount Pleasant, was a relatively easy one, noted Athan Fokas, who's part of three generations that help run the restaurants today.

"Our customers asked us to come over there."

photo: dining
Satisfying customers, it seems, has become a Fokas-Ferderigos tradition -- and that's why Old Towne is the oldest, family-run restaurant in Charleston today.

"We've been in business over 30 years; we know what our customers want, and that's why we're so successful," Athan said.

The main attraction at the restaurants is the food, which includes not only Greek-inspired dishes but also slow-roasted chicken; grilled, broiled, steamed or fried seafood; flame-grilled steaks and shish kabobs; salads; vegetarian meals, and children's dishes.

However, all of the restaurants come with other customer-friendly features: Open kitchens where customers can see chickens roasting for the mandatory four hours, as well as cooks slicing gyros and ingredients for other dishes; large, square saltwater aquariums with exotic fishes, and, electronic-equipped meeting rooms for larger gatherings, such as company parties and motor-coach tours.

photo: dining
For the true, Greek-dish experience, a guest can opt for the always popular "Super Special" -- a platter filled with generous portions of slow-roasted chicken, sliced gyro, grilled pork-tenderloin shish kabob, fresh shrimp, baked leg of lamb, pita bread and Greek potatoes, served with soup and Greek or tossed salad.

Other Greek specialties include the Gyro Plate, which is gyro meat served on pita bread topped with vegetables and tzatziki sauce; the Souvlaki Plate, which is pork tenderloin on pita bread with chopped vegetables and tzatziki, and Mousaka, which is baked layers of eggplant and seasoned ground beef topped with a creamy cheese sauce.

Desserts range from the Greek baklava (honey, nuts and fillo leaf) to New York-style cheesecake. The restaurants also feature cappuccino, full bars and catering. All of the items on their lunch and dinner menus are available for takeout, too.

Then there's the boast to which customers have become accustomed the past three decades from the Fokas-Ferderigos family: "We use only the finest and freshest ingredients in the preparation of all of our dishes."

Sounds -- and tastes -- like good, authentic Greek to us.

Old Towne Grill & Seafood, 229 King St., Charleston, (843) 723-8170, www.oldtownegrill.com; North Towne Grill & Seafood, 2093 Eagle Landing, North Charleston, (843) 863-1001, www.northtownegrill.com; Zeus Grill & Seafood, 725 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant, (843) 388-9992, www.zeusgrill.com.


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