"Serving you, is life well spent."
That’s the motto you first see when you enter Nikos Mediterranean Specialties restaurant at 7777 N. Wickham Road, Suite 20, in the Suntree Square Plaza.
Restaurant owner Nicholas (Nikos) Chios said the motto is important because he believes it, has lived it and has earned the right to say it because he’s been a cook for more than 50 years.
"It makes me very happy to be able to do many different and beautiful things in this location," said the 78-year-old Chios. "At my age, I feel this is very meaningful to me. This is my legacy. Being able to think, to create and execute for my customers. This is the jewel of my crown."
Prior to opening Mediterranean Specialties, Chios was owner of the Times Square Diner, located next to his restaurant. He sold the diner six years ago but, instead of retiring, decided to open another restaurant.
"Retirement is not in my vocabulary," Chios said. "I feel very good health-wise. I think I have a good 10 years of productivity left in me. I see no chance of slowing down. I’ve always thought I had more life in me to do more things, so I decided to create a restaurant that would be my legacy."
Chios was born near Sparta in Greece. He lived and worked in the food industry in Massachusetts for 30 years, before moving to New York to continue the same line of work for another 11 years. In 2004, he moved to Florida, and has lived in the Baytree subdivision since 2005.
"I love this area," Chios said. "It is very beautiful. Florida takes me back to Greece."
Besides the motto on the windows overlooking the cooking area, the restaurant’s interior is decorated in historic motifs and symbols from Ancient Greece.
"The name of the restaurant goes back to my roots," Chios said. "I was born near Sparta, Greece, and I wanted to bring my roots to this restaurant. I created this — it was my vision, my dream. I knew how I wanted this to look.
"At my age, I feel this is very meaningful to me," he continued. "Servicing and pleasing our customers is more important to me than making money. It is very easy and very satisfying for me to connect with people."
Opened since November 2019, the restaurant operates seven days a week (except holidays) from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The restaurant also employs 14 to 16 full- and part-time employees.
"As a team, we try to please everyone who comes in here," Chios said. "All the girls are very personable and they believe in my legacy. All the staff is very helpful."
Chios said all the flavors he offers are fresh and healthy. Everything is cooked and prepared daily and to order.
One of the restaurant’s specialties is its "Spartan" salad. The salad is in memory of Chios’ mother, Eugenia. It is made with vine ripened tomatoes, village bread croutons, cucumber, radishes, roasted petite peppers, over micro-greens topped with frilled feta, laced with virgin Spartan oil and served with melas zomos (red wine vinegar, oil and spices).
"She (my mother) would be extremely happy with the restaurant and with what I have accomplished," he said. "She would be very proud of seeing my creations and how I’ve brought Greece here."
For more information, call 321-610-7385 or go to gyrosandpizza.com.