In January of 1980, then 26 years old, Manos Paschalis came from Greece to the United States to study business at the University of Toledo. He got a job waiting tables at Athens Village, a now-closed restaurant on Erie Street, working his way up to be the floor manager. With that experience, he decided to open Manos Greek Restaurant in 1981.
“I love meeting people, talking to them and exchanging ideas. Greek culture is one of hospitality,” he explains. “In Greece, eating isn’t about nutrition and sustaining yourself. For us, it’s a process. We take our time, we socialize, and we love to go out. It’s in our culture. The restaurant business came naturally (to me).”
After 36 years of owning a restaurant, he admits, “the restaurant industry is tough, but if you love it, you survive it. Consistency is important and we treat our customers as friends and family.”
Bringing Greece alive
To bring his home to Toledo, Manos and his wife, Judy, have cultivated a Greek ethos. Painted vines and murals of the Greek island of Samos adorn brick walls in the dining area. Outside, a large patio comes alive with flowers and plantings. The family-friendly environment is comfortable for all ages. A romantic, taverna-style interior where friends laugh over Greek wine, sharing plates of feta and olives, also affords diners a place to savor deep, rich flavors of stewed lamb and other Greek specialties. There are patrons and employees who have been regulars at the restaurant for 25 years.
“Basic, classic Greek dishes, like pastisio, lamb shank, gyros and spanakopita, have been on the menu since the beginning and we use the same recipes,” says Paschalis.
But Manos isn’t tied to tradition. “Some of our regulars have asked for specific combinations, so we’ve put their favorites on the menu and named it after them.”
Connecting with his community
Cuisine is only one ingredient in the success of his restaurant. Paschalis considers community to be equally important. Above the dining room, The Attic on Adams, a popular UPtown bar, managed by general manager, Amelia Jarrett, allows customers to order from the restaurant menu during serving hours. The Attic offers pub food after the restaurant kitchen closes.
A few blocks away, Paschalis maintains a community garden he started five years ago that supplies fresh produce for the restaurant, allows students to learn about gardening and gives space for locals to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Down Adams Street, a mural, painted on the side of another building (at 13th and Adams) owned by Paschalis, is known as The Love Wall. Boasting “Toledo Loves Love” the wall conveys the sentiment that first brought Paschalis here in 1980: opportunity, diversity, cultural vibrancy and the value of equality that has helped him succeed.
“It’s important to be involved in the community because, at the end of the day, this community is where I live, spend time, spend money. It’s where my friends, my family live. We have to be involved so we can solve problems before they become problems.”
(Flaming Greek Cheese) Sizzling Kassari cheese, often
served flaming with a loud “Opa!”,
is not as difficult as it appears.
Forewarning: this recipe, like many Greek dishes, relies on the same rule of measurement used by my Greek grandmother. As Yia-Yia would say, “Eye it out. If it looks right, it probably is. If it tastes right, who’s to argue?”
A metal plate
Kasseri Cheese (sliced about ½ inch thick)
1-4 tablespoons of olive oil (you’ll know)
One lemon About ¼ cup of flour
Optional: a cast iron pan or a hot plate
One shot of brandy or vodka (for the pan)
Optional: One shot of brandy of vodka (for you) 1. Beat egg. 2. Dip the sliced cheese in the beaten egg. Follow with a dust of flour on both sides. 3. Heat oil in the pan. As soon as the oil is hot, add the cheese and fry for a few minutes on each side. Flip carefully with a spatula. If you’re using a metal plate: Squeeze lemon on top and serve with bread or pita. If you’re using a hot plate or cast iron pan: Pour a shot of your brandy or vodka on top. Carefully use a long match to create a flame with the vapors. Yell “Opa!”* Wait until the fire dies down, squeeze lemon on top and serve with bread or pita. * Manos says that yelling “Opa!” is not necessary, but surely adds to the fun. We agree.
17th & Adams
419-244-4479 | Manosgreekrestaurant.com
11am-3pm, Monday. 11am-9pm,
Tuesday-Thursday. 11am-11pm, Friday. 5-11pm, Saturday.
Delivery offered during lunch.