The Topeka Capital-Journal
Gyroville opens this week, bringing fresh and heart-healthy Mediterranean Greek food to the Topeka market.
The Topeka restaurant at 2855 S.W. Wanamaker Road is the Florida-based chain’s 10th store and the first U.S. location outside of Florida, said COO David Kurlander.
The Topeka location is owned by Anna Voskoboyeva, president and CEO of Vosko Management LLC. A Dutch citizen currently living in Istanbul, Voskoboyeva wasn’t able to be in Topeka for the restaurant’s opening. Her mother, Nataliya Miller, has lived in Topeka nearly seven years and as Vosko vice president, she is overseeing the company’s first restaurant venture.
They chose Gyroville because of their interest in Mediterranean food and its healthful benefits, Miller said.
“The Mediterranean diet is on the rise now here, and in Europe it is already popular because it’s the healthiest diet in the world,” Miller said. “Anna did a lot of research. People eating this kind of food, they’re longevity, long-living.”
The mother-daughter team was excited to discover Gyroville, which has eight Florida stores and one store in Quito, Ecuador.
For Kurlander, in town to assist with employee training and the store’s grand opening Thursday, seeing the Topeka store come together was exciting because it’s the first time he’ll see a long-planned new design for the company. Their previous color scheme, he said, was virtually nonexistent.
“We haven’t opened up a store in over five years. When we opened up our stores, we didn’t have franchise in mind,” Kurlander said. “We just started with our first location. Now this is the look, this is what we’re going to go for.”
The store features bright splashes of greens, leaning toward lime, and deep blues, which highlight pale woods. The overall feel is airy and light.
The decision to offer fast-casual Greek food is one that has been successful for the company that launched in 2010, Kurlander said. One focus of the store has been to educate people about Greek food. And that means not getting sucked into discussions about how gyro should be pronounced.
Merriam-Webster dictionary has a discussion about the issue; at Gyroville, the company has used the American pronunciation, which is just what the word looks like, rather than the Greek pronunciation, which is more like yee-roh.
“We were Greek, and we realized we need to educate everybody without feeling like you’re teaching or intimidating them,” Kurlander said. “We want to make everything comfortable for everybody, make it easy for everybody who isn’t comfortable with tzatziki and different Greek ingredients and pronouncing things.”
He laughed and admitted that people comment online and sometimes in the store that they don’t even know how to pronounce gyro.
Gyroville offers flavored tzatziki, made of strained or diluted yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic and other spices and herbs, which Kurlander said is extremely popular.
Miller nodded, saying it was one of the things she fell in love with when trying the restaurant’s food.
The company offers sampling spoons to try different sauces, and it encourages people to ask questions and explore the variety of toppings offered. The full menu can be found online at www.gyroville.com.
The Topeka outlet was training employees in the days before opening, and Kurlander said it’s always a challenge to open a restaurant.
“You’re going from zero to 100 in five minutes, right?” he said. He added that he, a training manager and founder Lambros Kokkinelis will be in the store for the opening and to help.
“We don’t just stand and smile,” he said. “We get involved.”
Miller said she’s excited for the opening. Although she doesn’t have a restaurant background, she does have experience in customer service.
“I think that the most that is fun-feeling is to serve people and see that they are happy,” she said, adding that when she trained in a Florida store with her daughter, it was wonderful to see they had many regular customers.
“It tells you something,” she said. “It tells you that people coming back for months and years. It means that something is really good there, something very right. This is a really good feeling, to work in this system.”
Gyroville will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.