Beloved Montrose Greek restaurant Niko Niko's will head outside the Loop thanks to a new venture with H-E-B. A Niko Niko's Express will replace the Cafe on the Run at the grocery chain's Pearland location at Texas 288 and FM 518.
Niko Niko's owner Dimitri Fetokakis tells CultureMap that the deal came about when he read an article in which H-E-B executive Scott McClelland said he liked eating at the restaurant. They traded a few phone calls and McClelland offer Fetokakis the opportunity to open in Pearland.
"We’re not going to skimp on anything," Fetokakis promises. "We’re putting a good amount of money into this. Instead of building a restaurant out there, I’m able to test the market."
"It’s always exciting when you’re growing," Fetokakis says. "We’re pretty conservative. We like to buy our land, but Market Square was a neat project . . . This is going to be a good partnership. Something we can learn with and grow with."
The menu will be similar to the Market Square location, but the Pearland outpost is big enough for a fryer, which means diners will get to munch on Niko Niko's signature fries. "We’ll have the gyro sandwich (and) all our appetizers: spinach pies, cheese pies, meat pies. Stuff you can grab it and take it," Fetokakis adds. If these items prove successful, they may add to-go pans of Greek lasagna and family packs of gyro meat.
Some items might even be unique to the new Pearland location (plans for the new outpost were first reported in Houston Chronicle). "My mother has a lot of nice recipes we do at the house: different salads, different soups. We might introduce those after we get open," Fetokakis says.
And diners shouldn't worry that they'll get a subpar experience by not coming to the original location, he says. "We’re not going to skimp on anything. We’re putting a good amount of money into this. Instead of building a restaurant out there, I’m able to test the market."
Asked about whether H-E-B has raised the possibility of additional outposts, Fetokakis demurs. "There’s a possibility if they like us and if it’s working out. You never know. They might say, 'Hey, come into other stores.' For now, we’re just going to stick with this one."
Whatever the future may hold, the partnership is off to good start. "Everyone at H-E-B, from the managers to the lawyers, they’ve been amazing. I’m excited to build that relationship," Fetokakis says.