Lifelong Greenville resident John Makkas had little intent to return to the Upstate after moving to Chicago and enrolling in culinary school at LeCordon Bleu. Upon finishing his culinary education, he entered the Chicago food scene for four years. During this time, he was surprised to learn of Greenville’s transformation into a food mecca. As the son and grandson of Greek immigrants and excellent chefs, Makkas had grown up surrounded by Greek food and tradition, always with the idea of opening his own Greek restaurant. Four years later, this idea materialized when Makkas and his wife returned to Greenville to open Ji-Roz, a trendy Greek restaurant which captures the Makkas’ vision of authentic Greek cuisine.
Inspired by the Upstate’s recent farm-to-table movement, Makkas adopted this same commitment to fresh ingredients and locally sourced food. His restaurant, which fuses this concept with Greek cuisine, features an open kitchen that serves dishes from rotisserie meats, gyros, traditional Greek sides such as its beloved moussaka, homemade desserts and pastries and exclusive Greek wines.
In keeping with strict Greek Orthodox practice of fasting 260 days a year, Ji-Roz makes an effort to abide by this tradition by serving numerous vegan items, as well as small plates for sharing to offer customers the full Greek cuisine experience.
Ji-Roz also serves freshly brewed Methodical coffee and a traditional Greek coffee, both of which are available for bagged purchase. The restaurant even brews its coffee with a Hovoli, a traditional Turkish coffee brewer.
In addition to its standard menu, Ji-Roz offers featured meals, such as its recent Valentine’s Dinner, serving specialized dishes ranging from a hand-crafted fried arugula with pickled fennel salad to a beet ravioli, blueberry barbecue ribs and a homemade sokolatina dessert. Specialized meals like these are inspired by local ingredients that are fresh and in season.
The 2,500 square-foot restaurant offers vegetarian as well as vegan options, and gluten free pitas to accommodate customers’ dining preferences and allergies. Ji-Roz is equipped with a full bar and impressive indoor and outdoor seating areas. As a part of Main and Stone, the restaurant is located next to the popular Two Chefs Café and Market, and intends to serve as a new location for a lively happy hour, quick meal or leisurely Sunday brunch.
With a passion for food and people, Makkas explains that he chose his Main and Stone location with the hopes of offering a restaurant to promote the sense of community while serving up delicious and authentic food. Makkas, whose decision to return to Greenville was inspired by Greenville’s sense of community, believes that his restaurant will be a fun location to serve Greenville’s professional and familial communities over a relaxed meal of delicious Greek food. And since its Jan. 2 opening this year, the restaurant has received positive reviews for its flavorful, savory dishes and eclectic hip space that mixes a fresh, sleek design with Greek décor.
Ji-Roz is open seven days a week from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, and 10:00 to 3:00 p.m. for Sunday brunch. For more information and its menu, visit Ji-Roz’s website at http://jirozgreenvillesc.com.