LEWISTON — When Niky Karamousadakis led her family home to Maine — leaving Crete with her husband, Manolis, and their two girls — she had already surrendered herself to a life in a restaurant.
She had tried to make it another way.
She went to college. She earned her esthetician license, qualifying her to do facials. But the pull of the kitchen was too strong.
"The truth is we're all good at something in life," Karamousadakis said. "I've tried lots of other things. I would always go back to restaurants."
So she packed up her family's Greek recipes and consulted a cousin who works as an executive chef in Athens. And she set upon creating the restaurant she always wanted.
Manolis spent two months renovating the 30 Lowell St. building where Bocce's Grill and That's a Wrap were located in Lewiston. He ripped up five layers of flooring and removed the bar. And he built a restaurant space that is open enough to host a variety of activities.
"It's always been a dream for me to open up some kind of little place with Greek food," she said.
Niky comes by it honestly.
Her parents, Despina and Theodores Mihalakis, have owned and operated the Winthrop House of Pizza since Niky was a little girl. She started working for her parents by stacking pizza boxes. By the time she reached high school, she was earning an hourly wage.
After college, she found her way to Greece, where she'd vacationed with family. After she met Manolis, who was part of the Greek Coast Guard, she stayed.
After about four years, the couple agreed to move to America and Niky had her dream.
The restaurant opened quietly on Dec. 6.
Rather than open with a splash, they decided to let word of mouth build as new people were introduced to the breakfast and lunch menu, Niky said,
The menu is a combination of American foods such as omelets and burgers, and Greek dishes such as moussaka and spanakopita.
The American food is similar to the food her parents serve in their restaurant. The Greek food is modeled after the food they served at home.
"My mom is Greek, 100 percent Greek," Niky said. "She cooks in the Greek-style, which is exactly how I cook."
So far, the reception from customers has been good. A grand opening is planned for next month. Eventually, Niky and Manolis hope to host Greek nights with food and dancing. But for now, they are happy with their morning and afternoon hours — 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, opening at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.
"I've had great feedback," she said. She's offered many samples. "People try it. They like it and they come back."