New Greek Restaurant Franchise Expands To Valley

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two now open, 17 more are in planning stages

"Opa!" is a Greek word often used (or screamed) when people are having a good time.

It is also one that Peter Steell, owner of the new Opa! Souvlaki of Greece, uses regularly.

"It is a sound of joy," said Steell, 24, who debuted the fast-food restaurant in the United States. There are 55 stores in Canada. The second location in metro Phoenix opened this month at SanTan Village in Gilbert. Plans continue for 17 more restaurants in the Valley.

The store offers a wide selection of Greek foods including some favorites and some firsts.

The heart of Opa! is its grilled souvlaki, available in skewers of chicken, lamb, pork or gyros.

Souvlaki includes Greek-style roasted potatoes, rice pilaf, pita bread and tzatziki, a yogurt-based sauce with cucumbers, garlic and lemon.

"Our gyros (pita sandwiches) are one of a kind. I've been told they are the best in the Valley," Steell said. "People from New York and Chicago say they are as good as they are there. People come in just for the gyros." Other favorites include the fresh Greek salads, the deep-fried calamari, and the spanakopita, a pastry pouch with spinach and feta filling.

Of course, baklava, the traditional Greek dessert featuring phyllo pastry, crushed nuts and sweet honey, is also on the menu.

Matt Palmer, 37, of Phoenix, tried a chicken combination recently with his son, 2-year-old Ries.

"It's excellent," Palmer said. "I love Greek food." Mary Jane Focht, 75, of Phoenix, comes to eat at Opa! several times a week with a group that walks the mall.

"When we heard it was Greek food, we were all excited," said Focht, handing Steell salt-water taffy she brought home from vacation. "It's a super place. I love it." Opa! opened in 1997 in Canada. Steell started working there when he was 16.

He later attended culinary school in Canada, apprenticing with such celebrity chefs as Brad Horn and Michael Noble.

Steell was inspired by his Greek mother and grew up knowing that he wanted to have a career in cooking.

"I knew food would be my life, and food is my life," Steell said. "Making people smile and say, 'That was the best food I ever had,' makes my day." The young chef returned to Opa! after graduating from culinary school

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OPA! Souvlaki Franchise Group
700, 7015 Macleod Trail South
Calgary, Alberta

Phone: (403) 245-0033
Fax: (403) 271-4236

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