The new year brings good news for Clarke County residents looking to enjoy Mediterranean treats like souvlaki and moussaka. Since the demise of the Knossos restaurant this past summer, fans of Greek cuisine have had limited options in town. However, early in 2012 Greek cuisine will return to Berryville as the Santorini Grill makes plans to open. The new restaurant will be located in the old Tastee Freez building on South Buckmarsh and promises to deliver a superior fast food experience. Owners Constantine Tsatsos and Tom Diamantis have been hard at work renovating and cleaning the space and hope to open by the end of January.
Tom Diamantis has over 58 years in the food service industry but this will be the first restaurant he has a stake in. Constantine Tsatsos spoke of his business partner’s experience saying, “He began his career at the age of 12 in Athens. Since then he has helped open and manage dozens of Greek restaurants across Northern Virginia. Now for the first time, he has a 50% stake in this restaurant as an owner.”
Indeed Diamantis has had a colorful career, working as an Army cook, then for the Merchant Marines before settling into the commercial restaurant business opening and acting as general manager for many restaurants in the area that still flourish. In fact, Diamantis helped open and operate three Knossos Restaurants in Vienna, Leesburg, and Manassas, that consistently won customer’s approval and were recognized as some of the cleanest establishments in their communities.
“We insist on operating a very clean restaurant,” said Constantine. This has proven to be their biggest barrier to opening in their new location. The building they are leasing was suffering from some cleanliness issues left over from the previous business. The two owners have spent hundreds of hours scrubbing and de-greasing kitchen equipment. In addition, there were repairs that needed to be made to the aging structure. “The roof was leaking and needed to be repaired and that caused ceiling damage, so the ceiling needed to be replaced. There is a lot of work to do.”
Their work is nothing short of amazing. The “new fryer” wrapped in plastic is not new at all. Tom and his wife spent 6 days cleaning and refurbishing the old fryer to the point that it looks brand new. The two owners have been working their way through the space and the equipment, cleaning and refurbishing to make sure everything meets their standards before they open.
Constantine said, “We are shooting for the end of January, but it’s a lot of work to bring this place up to our standards.”
The new restaurant will feature a hand picked menu by Tom and will include traditional Greek fare. They also plan to employ 5-6 part-time employees in the community.