More than five years after he began dreaming of opening a Greek restaurant in an old bus terminal, Theodore Mastrogiannis finally opened his restaurant three weeks ago.
With his vision now realized, Mastrogiannis said the real work just began.
Theo's Midtown at 620 W. McCarty St. serves Greek-style pizza, gyros, sandwiches, pastas and desserts like baklava. So far, he said, business has been swift and he's seen several repeat customers.
Mastrogiannis started the project in 2012 when his career came to a crossroads. Son of restaurateur Alex Mastrogiannis, who owns Alexandro's Restaurant and T.G.'s Lounge on Missouri Boulevard, he began cooking professionally at age 15. In 2012, he stumbled upon the closed bus station on West McCarty Street while contemplating whether to stay in Jefferson City or pursue opportunities elsewhere.
Over the years, planning slowed as Mastrogiannis navigated the purchase from the building's joint ownership between Jefferson City and the federal government. Construction began in summer 2016 and came to a head this fall.
While residents clamored for the restaurant to open, Mastrogiannis wanted to wait until everything felt perfect, ensuring as few bumps as possible would come once the restaurant opened.
That eye for attention might have paid off. So far, other than one or two mishaps where his staff forgot to put a topping on a pizza, there have been fewer bumps than Mastrogiannis imagined.
He said it feels like a big weight lifted off his shoulders when the restaurant opened. Since the opening, he has worked 17-hour shifts most days. One day last week, he got to the restaurant around 8:30 a.m. and left after 1 a.m. the next day.
While business remains steady, he knows it will slow down once the newness wears off. His focus remains on the future.
"I'm looking at five, 10, 15 years down the road," Mastrogiannis said. "I'm fortunate that people have been receptive."
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