Family-run Estia is growing its highly customizable, fresh Greek street food concept

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

There's no shortage of Greek restaurants serving gyros, feta-topped salads and avgolemono in Metro Detroit — thankfully. 

One local gyro house, Estia Greek Street Food, is growing its brand with a highly customized version of this cuisine. Owners George Xenos and Paul Bittas have two locations and a busy food truck that is booked weeks out. They are opening a third brick-and-mortar restaurant in Grosse Pointe Woods later this summer.

A gyro, Greek fries and a salad with grilled chicken breast from Estia Greek Street Food.

The name "estia" means home, which makes sense because that is what this cuisine means to the owners, who are cousins. 

"We grew up eating this food," said Xenos. "This is a little more street-food orientated, but it's still Greek. We use the same ingredients we grew up eating at our dinner table, as cliché as it may sound. All the sauces, all the seasonings, all the meats all the marinades, they are very familiar to us and very common in our homes. Even to this day, this is what we feed our kids, our families."

I got Estia delivered to my own home more than a few times during the pandemic and it became a fast favorite. As a gyro super fan, I was missing Greek salads and pitas that I routinely got as a downtown Detroit office worker. Estia's business models made it easy to order when dining out was on pause, and the convenience continues post-pandemic. 

In addition to ordering via the third-party apps for delivery, carryout customers can get super-specific with their order on Estia's mobile app. Decide if you are having a homemade pita, salad or a rice bowl, then choose your favorite toppings like fresh chopped vegetables and flavor-packed sauces and spreads. Meat choices include the expected lamb-beef gyro and hormone-free grilled chicken, but also hand-stacked, fire-roasted pork belly carved from upright rotisserie grill, just like in Greece. 

Also like in the Mediterranean, you can get french fries on the pita. They also are served as a crispy side of "Greek fires," with olive oil, feta and spices — simple and well-done. 

Gyros from Estia Greek Street Food. The fast-casual restaurant is planning a third location for Grosse Pointe Park later this summer.

It's encouraging to see a local business grow after this tumultuous year and a half. The quick-service model is perfect for carryout, though. During the shutdowns and restrictions, Xenos and Bittas turned the patio at their Troy location into a drive-thru. They launched their mobile app for easy, contact-free ordering and that now accounts for 40-50% of their business.

They also kept the pandemic in mind when working on their Grosse Pointe Woods restaurant, which is smaller than the other two at just 1,800 square feet. 

"We did this because of the new dining dynamic," said Xenos. "We found that larger dining rooms are no longer necessary. We are quick, we are nicely priced and we'll feed your family with pretty awesome food, pretty healthy food, too." 

Like most in the industry, staffing has been hard and rising costs have forced them to kick up menu prices by 5% to account for what Xenos said was a 200% increase in items like chicken. Still, the cousins say they pay a fair wage and are doing their best to offer a fresh, affordable product quickly. 

East siders eager to give Estia a try before its Grosse Pointe Woods opening (which will be on Mack just north of Vernier) can visit the food truck when it pulls up to Copper Hop Brewing on Mack just south of Nine Mile in St. Clair Shores, 5-8 p.m. Friday. 

Find the open brick-and-mortar restaurants at 2897 W. Maple in Troy (carryout, inside seating and drive-thru) and 5753 12 Mile in Warren (indoor and outdoor seating and carryout). View the menu at goestia.com or download the Estia Greek Street Food app. 

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mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens