If you go to the Athenian Restaurant at 1130 Old Tamiami Trail and leave hungry, you will be a rarity.
The Athenian offers a large variety of Greek and other types of cuisine, as well as portions big enough so that you can bring some home for lunch the next day.
It's pretty much been that way since owner Chris Tsovolos bought the place in 1990 (then called Dynasty) after owning diners in New Jersey.
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In 2005, Tsovolos doubled the size of the restaurant and got through the Great Recession a few years later, thanks to a stream of loyal customers
"We've had steady customers who like the menu. It was tough then and continues to be tough for the restaurant business," Tsovolos said.
The Athenian serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
Breakfast features the standard three-egg omelets, biscuits and gravy and pancakes, and for lunch you can enjoy a variety of sandwiches with all the toppings.
But it's the dinners, which are served from 11 a.m. on, that people clamber for, where for as little as $10 you can have a meal with bread, soup and salad, an entre with a potato and vegetable and dessert.
And you can get just about anything, from seafood to beef to lamb, even liver. Many people end up taking a portion of their food home with them.
"That's why we get so many customers. They get their money's worth, and they get quality," Tsovolos said.
These days, many restaurants have shortened their menus, especially those you see featured on those "Kitchen Nightmares" programs. Tsovolos, who always shapes his menu, said it all comes down to the basic proteins and the ability to prepare them in different ways.
"When you work in the business as many years as I have, people want chicken, fish or meat," Tsovolos said. "If you can make those things in different ways, you have a wide variety on the menu."
Of course, the Athenian has daily specials, which are highlighting on the blackboard, and specialties such as the gyro, souvlaki and other Greek fare, as well as new items like Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and honey.
Tsovolos said he expects to stay in business for a long time to come, with three children either in college or on their way. He said that while they come back to work on the weekends, he hopes they don't come back to run the place, since they are studying other things and the food service business is a tough one.
The Athenian is open every day, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and weekends from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information, call the Athenian at 656-6212.
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