Acropolis Mediterranean Grill Celebrates 24 Years of Business
This year marks 24 years of business for Acropolis Mediterranean Grill. A staple of the Chattanooga restaurant scene, Acropolis Mediterranean Grill serves Greek, Italian, and American cuisine using time honored family recipes and fresh, local ingredients to provide guests with an experience that is as unique as it is delicious.
The story of Acropolis Mediterranean Grill begins in 1951 when Teddy Kyriakidis came to America, bringing with him the tastes and smells of the streets of Athens in the hilly countryside of Greece. With no money to his name, he stepped off the boat and made his way to New Jersey to chase the mighty American Dream.
It was in New Jersey that a small 52 seat restaurant owned by two brothers would help Teddy to realize his calling as a restaurant owner. After working at Harry’s Restaurant for 7 years, the aging brothers who owned Harry’s sold Teddy the restaurant. It was at Harry’s in Asbury Park that Teddy learned how to run a successful business, and likewise found his passion. It was also in that restaurant that he hired a conservative, Southern blonde waitress with no experience. That waitress, who didn’t know a Danish from a hard roll, would later become his wife, Betty. The restaurant was just a block from the beach and, after taking over Harry’s, Teddy soon had aspirations to take on a new challenge.
After years of triumph and hard times, Teddy again left everything behind in search of a better life. He sold his home and restaurant, and moved his family to a better life in New York City. He wanted to give his children the best life he could provide and teach them not just about living, but surviving. Teddy’s son, Nick Kyriakidis, fondly recalls owning his own produce business at age 8. Each week, Teddy would take his children to the local produce markets in the city to buy produce the children would later sell. At a young age, he instilled the business and life skills that they have carried with them through their lives. While in New York City, Teddy acquired the Neptune Diner, an even larger restaurant than Harry’s.
Coming to Chattanooga
14 years after acquiring the Neptune Diner in New York City, Teddy and his family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is here they opened their own restaurant, Little Athens, located in East Ridge. Little Athens quickly became known for serving delicious Italian and Greek dishes to hungry guests. After 13 years in East Ridge, Teddy and his family decided to open the Acropolis Four Stars Grill in 1995. With the new restaurant, the family created a dining space that truly embodied the spirit of Greece. Imported Greek wines and twice the seating capacity of Little Athens quickly turned the Acropolis Four Stars Grill into one of the more successful restaurants in the Chattanooga area.
When the Kyriakidis family closed their restaurant, Little Athens, and opened the Acropolis Four Stars Grill, they knew it too would be a family affair. While it may have been Teddy’s restaurant, Betty and the children each played an important role in its success. From cooking and cleaning to serving and bussing tables, the restaurant became a family gathering place, for not only their family but families in the Chattanooga area. It was an extension of their home dining room presented for their guests’ enjoyment. The Acropolis Four Star Grill was where people could come together to enjoy good food and good company.
After 24 years, this same mindset is what makes the Acropolis Mediterranean Grill such a special place to enjoy a meal. Whether you are looking for a quick bite to eat, want to celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to be surrounded by friends and family while you enjoy a meal, Acropolis offers the perfect environment to sit back, relax, and lose yourself in great company.
The Future of the Acropolis Mediterranean Grill
It is in remembering the history and valuable lessons of his father that Nick Kyriakidis continues his legacy. Taking over as general manager after the passing of his father, Nick is dedicated to making sure that the Acropolis Mediterranean Grill continues to serve the needs of guests by providing them with the best in Greek, Italian, and American dishes in Chattanooga.
“We have been successful because of our focus on being locally owned and operated. Our family has been serving Chattanooga for 37 years, 13 at Little Athens in East Ridge and 24 years at Acropolis Mediterranean Grill at Hamilton Place. We are connected to our community through our long time customers, our farms and purveyors we buy from, as well as the many community partners and non-profits that we support to strengthen our city,” explains Nick. “I see the restaurant continuing forward with a focus on being an independent, family run business. We always want the restaurant to reflect the values that my father brought to the business – To serve the freshest local ingredients and to use our business as a way to connect not only directly to our customers, but also to serve the greater community.”
With three generations of owners bringing food to three generations of guests, Acropolis continues to be one of the most celebrated restaurants in the Chattanooga area and, under Nick’s guidance, continues to grow and evolve.
After taking over the role of general manager, Nick has made it a point to source as many ingredients that are used in the restaurant’s dishes from local sources around the Chattanooga area. Getting more connected to the food is very important to Nick, his family, and culinary staff. For example, the restaurant now buys whole fish and prepares it from start to finish, in-house. The restaurant also purchases more local ingredients and acquires local products from smaller distributors that carry Signal Mountain Farms’ produce, Mayfield items, and North Georgia peaches. However, the local ingredients don’t stop there.
“We partner directly with Riverview Farms for grits, cornmeal, and flower,” Nick says. “Through T&T Produce, a local produce distributor, we also partner with Monterey Mushrooms, Jem Farms, Flavor PIC, Coggins Farm, Williams Farms, Wilkinson-Cooper Produce, Wish Farms, Goodson, Delvin Farms, Moore & Porter, Roberson, J.Durbin Farms, Baker Farms, S&P, and Gary Andrew. These local farms provide us with many different types of fresh produce, including turnip greens, green cabbage, vine ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, squash, mushrooms, and other fresh ingredients that make our dishes so delicious.”
In addition to sourcing local ingredients, a wide range of local and regional craft beers can be found on tap at the Acropolis bar, such as Hutton and Smith Brewing Co., Chattanooga Brewing Company, Yee-Haw. These beers change with the seasons, ensuring that a fresh rotation is always ready for thirsty guests.
These seemingly small details, details that may even go unnoticed to the average guest, are what makes Acropolis Mediterranean Grill such a special place. Looking to the future, Nick and his mother Betty, who still comes to the restaurant each day ensuring things are running properly and the customers are happy, want Acropolis to remain one of the premier restaurant destinations in the Chattanooga area.
“As so many trendy diets come and go, the Mediterranean diet will continue to grow because it is a lifestyle that has been followed for centuries in countries like Greece,” Nick says. “The family dining table is still longed for and we hope we are able to deliver that experience to guests at The Acropolis.”
It is Nick and Betty’s hope that a new generation of families will come to enjoy Acropolis Mediterranean Grill as much as they have and recognize the dedication and passion that has gone into making the restaurant a welcoming place for decades.