Santorini Restaurant reopens with fanfare and family roots
By Christopher DeGusto
Revere’s Greek and seafood restaurant Santorini reopened in late June after months of renovations, to the delight of owner Ike Tzakis, who has planned to transform the beachside eatery into a trendy and creative spot that’s unlike the other places to dine on the boulevard.
Santorini, which was opened before the turn of the century, is a family-owned business, by Tzakis and his mother, Stavroula Fotopoulos. After having the restaurant open for approximately five years, Santorini was sold. According to Tzakis in an interview on Wednesday, those who took over had not been kind to the seaside establishment.
“The new owners kind of ran the place into the ground,” said Tzakis. “They didn’t keep it the way we had it. They wanted to do their own thing. Why change something that works?”
Tzakis, who lives in Toronto, Ontario, and his mother repossessed the restaurant roughly six months ago. He said he is looking for a resurgence in business and turning around its “bad name” and quality that was not up to his standards.
“My goal is to just get a good name again, and generate good business. Then I can implement whatever I really want to do here and take it to the next level,” said Tzakis. “I’ll do things that Revere Beach needs and lacks. We have a new generation coming in here – new ways of eating.
North Shore staples are part of the Santorini menu, which Tzakis said “has the freshest seafood” on the boulevard. Tzakis explained how it is difficult to stand out on Revere Beach and introduce guests to a diverse palette of food. With long time beachgoers wanting items such as a seafood sandwich with tartar sauce, he said that people have been set in their ways.
“But this place is changing. There’s new developments here throughout the years, new condos, new buildings, and this is bringing a young new generation that are willing to try new things,” said Tzakis. “I even want to put a soft-shell crab sandwich in here, but it’s not the time.”
Santorini is not currently advertising and does not use paper menus – operating off the large board above the main station where guests order. Tzakis said the focus is on quality of food and quality of staff. Next summer his plan is to have the store operating at peak business.
“I’m trying to transition to really push the store to see its true potential,” said Tzakis. “Once we see that, we’ll probably do a whole gut in here and change the concept totally.”
For new additions for Santorini, Tzakis wants to revamp the interior concept and build a full bar.
As the chef, manager and accountant for Santorini, Tzakis has his hands full with the task of bringing new business to the restaurant, but he has a history of experience behind him to add confidence to this endeavor. Tzakis’ background includes culinary school and 15 years of work in the fine dining industry.
“I’m a consultant [in Toronto]. I open up restaurants for other people; I do all the menus for them. I train their staff and get them going,” said Tzakis. “I left the fine dining scene about five years ago – I have a family and it’s too many hours, so that’s why I came here. I’ve tried to implement some sort of that to Revere Beach.”
He said he has been back and forth from Revere to his home and family since the establishment was repossessed by his family, and he will return to Canada for a longer time frame in October when the winter starts to cool business down for the season. Being away from family is the most challenging aspect of reestablishing Santorini, Tzakis said of his personal life.
From sauces and dressings to house made dough for menu items such as pizza, Tzakis said that Santorini operates by making as much as possible from scratch. The business, compete with “traditional stacked gyros” rounding out the essential of Greek food, sets the beachside restaurant apart according to Tzakis. Said Tzakis of Santorini, guests can still expect quality original food and a menu more diverse than what they may be used to.
“We’re just trying to get people to try our food,” said Tzakis. “I guarantee once they try it they’ll be back.”