Greek cuisine moves into Hermitage

HERMITAGE — On the first day of business Monday at The Simple Greek, one of the most important questions was the correct pronunciation of the menu’s most popular item.

In an attempt to be helpful, the owners put up a sign along the ordering line that displays all of the ways to properly say “gyro.” Even so, co-owner Ron Taylor said the pronunciation varies from customer to customer.

“A lot of the Greeks who come in tend to pronounce it ‘yee-roh’,” Ron said.

“But most of the Americans who come in tend to say ‘jai-roh’,” co-owner Sean Ferrier chimed in.

The Simple Greek opened its doors at 11 a.m. Monday at 2431 E. State St., Hermitage. As of 3 p.m., the store had completed about 200 transactions, which amounted to about 350 potential guests, Ron said.

Taylor and his wife, Lori, and Ferrier and his wife, Becca, are owners of The Simple Greek. The couples own another The Simple Greek restaurant in Boardman, Ohio.

The Ferriers have a background in insurance. Despite having to learn how to take inventory and meet federal regulations, Becca said the restaurant business still has its similarities to the insurance business.

“It’s not any different from the customer service side of things,” Becca said.

The Taylors, who own the Edible Arrangements next door in the plaza, were already familiar with the restaurant business. However, a relatively new franchise like The Simple Greek provided a unique opportunity for the owners to provide feedback and advice to the chain’s corporate leadership, such as how to chop olives or how to arrange the restaurant, Ron said.

“We wanted to be franchisees for a reason: We like to be part of the process and to follow those guidelines,” Taylor said. “But with Edible Arrangements, we were like the 540th store. The Simple Greek is still a franchise but we’re only the 20th store in the nation, so it’s still an evolving concept.”

Ron estimates that about “90 percent” of the The Simple Greek’s offerings are made in-house and served to customers fresh from the kitchen. The attention to detail is part of what drew the owners to The Simple Greek, and customers in other locations have said they can taste the difference, Ron said.

“We had an old lady come in who was brought to tears by the rice pudding because it reminded her of home,” Ron said. “That’s why we have someone whose job it is to literally stand there and stir it for about an hour before it’s served.”

The owners publicized The Simple Greek’s opening through a combination of social media and “old school” advertising like billboards. The store’s location on East State Street and proximity to Kraynak’s is also expected to be a factor in letting people know The Simple Greek is open, Ron said.

“It’s nice because Kraynak’s has been there forever,” Ron said. “So if you say ‘We’re located right next to Kraynak’s’ people know exactly where you’re talking about.”

The Simple Greek is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

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