Thursday afternoon, Manny’s Mediterranean Grille owner Michael Stavrinakis took to the restaurant’s Facebook to post, “Time to say goodbye … it is with a heavy heart that I am informing you all of a big change in my life.”
An OG City Paper advertiser and frequent Best Of “Best Gyro” and “Best Greek” winner, the family-friendly Manny’s had many loyal followers over the years, more than 100 of whom commented on Stavrinakis’ goodbye post — “best wishes,” “end of an era,” “sad to see you go.”
We caught up with Stavrinakis today. “I’m trying not to go too much on social media,” he says. “All the comments — I saw some stuff today that about made me cry, someone who had worked for me 20 years ago [commented]. What’s the reward in that? It’s priceless.”
The restaurant owner says at the end of the day, operating a restaurant day in and day out was no longer feasible, “I’ve been doing it a long time, we had a great clientele, but things change in your personal life. I’m 55 — when I was 52 we had a bonus baby and I was like, ‘This changes a lot of things.'”
Stavrinakis said he parlayed his experience and interest in the restaurant industry into starting Pacific Restaurant Brokers in 2017, where he says he will now be focusing his energy full-time. “I literally have to work until I’m 80,” he laughs. “I was like ‘I love the restaurant business, and I want to stay in it, but I don’t want to be doing restaurant ops when I’m 70, 80.'”
Stavrinakis says he chose Manny’s successor to be Locals Sushi, because he thought they would be a “good tenant for success at that location.” He says that the staff of Manny’s will be offered jobs at the new restaurant.
Manny’s GM, Stavrinakis’ sister Theoni, gets a special shoutout in his Facebook post. “She’s in her sixties, she was tired, and she wasn’t going to retire,” says Stavrinakis.
Many Facebook commenters have shared memories of visiting the restaurant with their families, and for “get-togethers with friends.” Twenty-six years is a long run for any restaurant, and Stavrinakis does not take the closing lightly. “I figured out my exit strategy and executed it, it’s a tough thing to do.”
Locals Park Circle and Mt. Pleasant have both posted that they’re hiring — keep up to date with what’s next for 1680 Old Towne Road by following Locals on social media.