The Port Orange restaurant offers Greek cuisine “ with an Albanian touch ”
PORT ORANGE – Shortly after moving to Port Orange with her family from Ohio six years ago, teenager Erision Tahiraj came up with the idea for a restaurant called Filo Greek. He even created a logo for it.
As a teenager, he did not have the means to make this dream come true. Instead, he became a student at the University of Central Florida, but left after graduating with a license to become a real estate agent.
Using a portion of his earnings as an agent and associate broker at GTL Real Estate, Tahiraj, now 25, opened Filo Greek on January 7. He describes it as a quick and relaxed restaurant that offers Greek cuisine “with an Albanian twist”.
Tahiraj’s family is from Albania, a country just north of Greece.
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âAlbanian food is very similar to Greek food,â said Tahiraj, nicknamed âEriâ. “We have a lot of the same dishes, but sometimes with different names. For example, we both have a spinach pie, which in Greece is called spanakopita. In Albania, we call it burek.”
Filo Greek is at 1665 Dunlawton Avenue in stores in Yorktowne. The restaurant space previously housed Daily Grind Burgers which closed last summer.
The owner grew up in the restaurant business
Tahiraj’s family moved to the United States when Eri was 2 years old. They settled in Columbus, Ohio, where her parents, Demir and Zamira (“Mira”), found a job as a restaurant cook.
Tahiraj’s father eventually opened a food cart in downtown Columbus called âDemo’s Grillâ. He specialized in gyroscopes. The business later became a food truck. Tahiraj said her entire family is committed to helping.
When Tahiraj’s family moved to Port Orange a few years ago, her parents became owners of a restaurant in Daytona Beach Shores called the Beach Bagel Cafe.
Tahiraj bought the Beach Bagel Cafe from her parents two years ago. He renovated it last summer and renamed it High Tide Kitchen. The restaurant at 3344 S. Atlantic Ave. specializes in breakfast and lunch.
Tahiraj’s opportunity to open Filo Greek came when he learned that the former Daily Grind Burgers had closed. He immediately agreed to rent the space he renovated. The new restaurant employs 10 full-time and part-time workers, roughly the same number as High Tide.
Build-your-own meal options available
Tahiraj describes the concept of Filo Greek as similar to Chipotle and other fast-casual restaurants where customers can create their own personalized orders.
You start with a base which can be a pita or a bed of rice with herbs, fresh greens, or seasoned Greek fries. The next step is to select a protein from a list of choices that includes herb chicken, steak, gyroscopic meat, ârusticâ lamb balls, pork souvlaki or falafel. The last step is to add toppings and sauce. Toppings available include roasted veggies, spring greens, hummus, feta cheese, romaine lettuce, red onion, tomato, kalamata olives, spinach dip and asparagus, and village salads. Sauce choices include Greek vinaigrette, tzatziki, and garlic vinaigrette.
Prices for the aforementioned entrees, which can be âmarketâ or âstreetâ bowls, salad or pita, range from $ 9 to $ 11, depending on the choice of protein.
Filo Greek also offers “street sides”, which include regular fries, loaded “feta fries” that are frothed with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce, bureks, a pita platter with a choice of three dips, fried calamari and village salads and asparagus. The restaurant also serves baklava, a sweet pastry popular throughout the Mediterranean region.
Tahiraj said her family remains involved with her two restaurants. His father is a handyman ready to fix anything that needs fixing. Her mom helps run High Tide. His sister, Aida, takes care of the accounting and payroll duties.
More Greek and Mediterranean restaurants are opening in the area
Filo Greek is the latest in a growing number of Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in Volusia County. Eat Greek Daytona opened in March of last year on Bay Street in downtown Daytona Beach. The second location of Oliv Epicurean Grill, a casual restaurant with Mediterranean influences in the Shoppes at Williamson Crossing shopping center under construction just east of LPGA Boulevard, is slated to open later this year. Oliv, whose original location is on Ridgewood Avenue in Holly Hill, also offers custom buildable bowls.
Costa Magoulas, dean of Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College, said he was not surprised to see the increase in restaurants with Greek and Mediterranean influence.
âThe Mediterranean diet is very popular these days,â he said. âWhat happened with COVID was that a lot of people started looking for healthier options. Mediterranean cuisine emphasizes fresh greens, fresh nuts and olive oil. It’s great for you. “
Magoulas moved to Daytona Beach as a child with his family in the late 1950s. “There were no Greek restaurants here when I was growing up. We had to go to St. Augustine.”
Today, choices include Greektown Taverna in Ormond Beach, Santorini Greek Cuisine in DeLand, Steve’s Famous Diner on A1A and Nova Road in Daytona Beach, and Pappas Drive-in & Family Restaurant and Beacon Restaurant in New Smyrna Beach.
There is also the Pasha Middle Eastern Cafe, Mediterranean Experience and King’s Pizza & Mediterranean in Daytona Beach, Blau and J Grill in Ormond Beach, Third Wave Cafe & Wine Bar in New Smyrna Beach and Bela Lisboa in Port Orange.
“We want to be a trademark”
Walter Borgen, a resident of Port Orange, the broker / owner of Re / Max Signature, was one of many people to post glowing reviews of Filo Greek on social media.
âI think it’s great,â he said, adding that he had eaten there twice already. “It’s cool, quick, and convenient and well priced. Their Greek fries were amazing. I had their gyro bowl. I love that you can customize everything, especially if I don’t want so many carbs.”
Tahiraj said he was encouraged by the positive buzz Filo Greek has generated so far.
âWe want to be a trademark,â he said. âWe want to be known for providing an affordable, yet fresh and quick food option for take out or for dinner here. We had queues but we are quite efficient.
Filo Greek is open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact the restaurant at 386-872-4097.