Nick the Greek is all about Greece — and the name Nick. The fast-casual restaurant concept, founded in 2014, was formed by three cousins — all named Nick.
The concept began when the three Nicks — “Big Nick,” “Little Nick,” and “Baby Nick” Tsigaris, all named for their grandfather as is the Greek tradition — wanted to share their love of Greek food with Northern California.
Nick the Greek started in 2014 and in under ten years, the brand has grown to over 60 units with another 20 expected to open by the end of the year, bringing their total restaurant locations to 80. Over the past three years, Nick the Greek has more than doubled their units.
Mostly situated in the Western U.S., Nick the Greek has over 50 restaurants in California alone, attempting to saturate the market after having developed brand recognition. There are also locations in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Utah and Missouri.
“2023 ushered in a new era of growth for Nick the Greek, and as we approach our tenth year in business next year, we are looking forward to celebrating that anniversary on the heels of one of the most significant periods of development in our history,” said Komiel Mohsenzadegan, chief operations officer of Nick the Greek, in a release.
The growth wasn’t immediate though; the Nicks plus Mohsenzadegan wanted to make sure they were set up for success before expanding beyond their britches. Once they were sure they were ready to go, the team began franchising in 2019. Then the world changed.
The brand did well during the pandemic because of its relationship with third-party providers, partnerships that gave them enough cash flow to open several more locations. The leadership team expects to have 150 units by 2025.
All three Nicks grew up in the restaurant industry, so when they decided it was time to open their own restaurant, they knew exactly where to begin.
It started with a trip to Greece that left the cousins wondering where they could get food like that in the U.S. When they came back, they had a mission: to bring Greek food to California.
When the first Nick the Greek opened, they realized they had a successful product.
“We realized there's a market for this,” Mohsenzadegan told Nation’s Restaurant News.
The food, by nature, is healthy and hearty — two attributes that have increased in popularity post-pandemic. However, the Greek food served at Nick the Greek isn’t traditional; it has a new spin on it.
“Everyone knows what a gyro is,” said “Baby” Nick Tsigaris, who also serves as chief marketing officer for the brand. “They don’t know how to say it, so we’ve done a play on that. We’ve kept it simple.”
The menu has beef, falafel, chicken, traditional pork, and veggie as proteins for pitas, plates, salads and bowls.
The menu, while containing a myriad of options, uses the same SKUs for most. So while the menu may seem large, it centers around those core proteins served in different vessels. This has allowed for more quality control as the brand grows and acquires more franchisees.
“For consumers, we just want to be reliable,” Mohsenzadegan said. “That’s the most important part, that everywhere we open a restaurant, we want people to know that they’ll get the same experience every time they go.”