I met this guy named Dino Sakkas about nine months ago. He owns a restaurant called Gyros on the Spit. He cooks what I believe to be the best greek food on the planet. What grounds do I have to make this bold statement? Try this on for size.
Last night I got out of yoga class in the South Loop. I had a craving for some gyros and I was starving. I drove my normal route to get the the Kennedy expressway, but the ramp I usually use on Taylor Street was closed so I had to go west and drive up Halsted Street instead. In the back of my head I was still trying to decide if I should honor that craving or drive straight home and eat leftover soup.
By driving up Halsted street I had to cut through Chicago’s legendary Greektown. I had to drive past Santorini. I had to drive past Pegasus. I had to drive by Parthenon. I had to drive by Athena. I had to drive by Greek Islands. I had to drive by many other places that did nothing to cure my gyros craving. In fact driving by those places totally cemented my gyros craving so I did what any illogical person would do. I drove twenty minutes further and out of my way to eat at Gyros on the Spit. That was my best decision of the week in a week of great decisions.
Last year Dino and his sister Dora re-launched the restaurant that their parents ran for over 25 years in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The first year of a restaurant is hard work. Even harder than the regular hard work of the restaurant business. Of the twenty or so times I’ve been to Gyros on the Spit now, there is only one time that Dino wasn’t there. It was the time he left for about 30 minutes because he was picking his kids up at school because his wife wasn’t feeling well.
While I sat at the bar last night and chatted with other patrons, Dino sat down and had a bite to eat also, taking a break at the end of a another long day. About two months ago I pitched Dino on the idea of coming in and opening up one Monday a month so I could host a storytelling show. Monday is the only day he takes off. He seemed kind of interested but said what all logical men say before making a decision, “Let me ask my wife?”
We decided to give it a roll but only open the bar and not do food so Dino could still give the rest of his staff the day off and run the bar himself. Are you starting to get an idea of how special a guy this Dino character is? Hard worker, father, husband, family guy overall. Dino radiates an infectious passion for life that made me fall in love with him the first day I met him.
Our first Monday night storytelling show happened this past Monday night. Dino stayed at the restaurant until 2:00 a.m. getting the place ready on Sunday night so we (I) wouldn’t have to run around right before the show. Dino came in and worked the bar himself like he said he was going to do. Forty five of us had an amazing night because we listened to other people’s stories and were moved by the way they touched our lives. We also had an amazing night because of our host Dino Sakkas.
Last night while I ate my remarkable plate of food that included gyros, greek sausage and chicken kabobs, I chatted with Dino about the next show. I asked him how he felt about doing food, but wanted to be clear that I didn’t want to create more work for him on his day off. He once again returned to his logical stance and said, “I talked it over with my wife and we thought about maybe doing a pre-paid buffet…”
Not surprisingly that was the exact idea I had in the back of my head. So next month at our second Monday Night Joyfest my friends you will not only be treated to stories about life. You will also have the opportunity to be treated to the best Greek food on the planet cooked by the hands of Dino Sakkas himself who will come in on his day off to do so. I’m lucky I’ve already had the chance to eat pretty much all his delicious foods. I’m even luckier to call him my friend. Details to follow soon!