Do you like ethnic foods but cannot seem to track down a suitable restaurant that will satisfy the entire family? This is a common problem, often due to the simple fact that so many ethnic restaurants feature food that is too extreme, too spicy, or otherwise not made with children and finicky family members in mind. But one newer restaurant chain has solved this problem once and for all. The restaurant is Zoes Kitchen, a dining establishment that combines Mediterranean cuisine with the dietary and taste demands of modern- day Americans. This restaurant just recently expanded to Katy, Texas and now has multiple locations in the greater Houston area with more locations planned for Texas and the rest of the United States in the coming year.
Zoës Kitchen opened its doors in Alabama and its roots trace all the way back to 1955 when John Cassimus and Archie Andrews incorporated the new restaurant and named it in honor of John’s mother, Zoe Cassimus. The restaurant was a local attraction at first before expanding and selling franchises, starting in the 1990’s. The freshly prepared Mediterranean/Greek comfort food was a hit with locals and the chain began to open and spread throughout the Southeast.
Today, Zoës Kitchen maintains its headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama and has locations in fifteen states. From as far north and east as Pennsylvania and New Jersey to as far south as Florida to as far west as Arizona, Zoës Kitchen is a restaurant chain on the move and its locations now number more than 80 and are growing quickly.
Zoës Kitchen features a menu that specializes in Mediterranean- inspired food dishes and is divided among these sections:
· Hummus and Salads
· Classic Sandwiches
· Grilled Sandwiches
· Pita Sandwiches
The menu selection also includes larger Dinners for Four options and Take Home Tubs for those who want to enjoy the great taste of the Mediterranean at home. There are plenty of side dish options as well and the menu is vegetarian- friendly, with menu items clearly labeled as vegetarian or vegan, when applicable.
A visit to Zoës Kitchen easily fits within the confines of most family budgets. Most every menu item (except, of course, the Dinners for Four) is priced below $10 and parents will be thrilled to discover that the kid’s menu items are priced in the $3 to $5 range. This is very reasonable pricing for such quality food and in most instances, the prices are not much more than a family would pay at a fast- food restaurant.
Zoës Kitchen promotes itself with the motto “Simple, Tasty, Fresh” and visitors will quickly understand why the restaurant selected these three words to describe the foods. Everything is prepared fresh each day and the menu items include healthy sides and an emphasis on good eating and good health. Rather than the usual side order of fries so common with other restaurants, Zoës Kitchen serves foods such as white beans, fresh fruit cups, rice pilaf, and other, healthier options. Even the chicken and other meats are served with a greater emphasis on nutrition and health, without all the breading and deep- frying so common with the food preparation at other dining establishments.
Zoës Kitchen is a casual restaurant and the service is friendly and courteous. Unlike fast- food establishments where customers order, wait for the food to get prepared, and then carry it back to the table, Zoës Kitchen provides customers with a numbered card attached to a small stand, which is then placed on the dining room table. When the food is ready, one of Zoës Kitchen’s reps will bring the food to your table. This is a nice touch and it adds a greater level of service without reaching the level of a full- service restaurant.
Among the many qualities of Zoës Kitchen that guests will appreciate is the food preparation itself. Some Mediterranean food is spicier than many prefer and it can lead many consumers to avoid Greek inspired food dishes altogether and resist visiting this type of restaurant. Zoës Kitchen, on the other hand, maintains a sense of moderation. The restaurant is certainly Mediterranean inspired, but it manages to scale back the extremities common to other restaurants that specialize in similar foods. There is less spiciness with the food served here, making it a great choice for those who want to sample some Greek food but don’t want to send their taste buds into a state of shock.
Zoës Kitchen is a restaurant first and foremost, but it is also about community and one of the programs it sponsors right now is the Zoës Celebrates Children Artwork Program. With this program, Zoës Kitchen teams up with a local school and asks children to submit works of art. The art is then placed on display in the restaurant and is offered for sale to guests. When guests purchase a work of art, they benefit the community because Zoës Kitchen turns over half of the proceeds to the school. There will likely be more programs similar to this one in the future as Zoës Kitchen expands further across the nation and continues to look for ways to support local communities and schools.
Zoës Kitchen is a winning restaurant concept and one that is certain to win over the hearts, minds, and wallets of budget- minded parents everywhere. The food is fresh and more nutritious than most quick- serve restaurants, the community support is commendable, and the prices for most meals are modest. It’s a great way to enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean in a casual setting without over- spending and taking a chance that not all family members will approve of what they eat. It is a fast- growing chain and one that everyone should visit as soon as they can, to enjoy the great taste of Greek- inspired food without breaking the family bank.
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