Paizi's Gyros Mediterranean Grill moving into a new building with a drive-thru

John Lovett
Fort Smith Times Record

"Ohhh pa!" – the signature thank you for tips left for the crew at Paizi's Gyros Mediterranean Grill – will be heard from a new location this fall.

Petree Construction has worked on the new Paizi's restaurant at 3310 S. 74th St. in Stonewood Shopping Center following the demolition of a former liquor store in March. The new digs will come with a drive-thru window and some extra room to prepare take-out orders of their gyro pita sandwiches, Greek salads and baklava.

"We have been thinking about this since the year before the pandemic, but when the pandemic hit, it made us decide to go with a drive-thru," said Hari Paizi, co-owner of the restaurant currently located 4900 Rogers Ave. Suite 103-J. "We're looking forward to moving there. This is a new chapter in our contribution."

With the lease running up at their current location, and a need for accessibility from more than one area, the Paizis are reconnecting with their roots for take-out orders. The restaurant owned by Hari and his wife Ilona started out as a food truck in Wisconsin and found a strong following in Fort Smith during their visits to the Oklahoma-Arkansas State Fair. Kicking the food truck business up a notch, they moved into the suite at 4900 Rogers Ave. in Fort Smith, the former location of Pho Real Asian Restaurant, in 2015.

A new Paizi's Gyros Mediterranean Grill is under construction at 3310 S. 74th St. Stonewood Shopping Center across from Mercy Hospital Fort Smith.

Still going strong on the state fair circuit, Hari and two crew members have been at the North Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls this week, serving about 5,000 hungry customers. They also can be found at state fairs in Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma throughout the summer months.

The Paizis are shooting for a mid-September opening at 3310 S. 74th St. The new building is 2,450 square feet, slightly bigger than their current location which seats about 60 customers. A few more staff members will be needed to run the drive-thru window and take-out station. Ilona said she is hiring now so they will be trained up for the new restaurant opening this fall. They currently have about a dozen employees, with two of those working the food truck at state fairs with Hari.

"My dream was always to add something new and this place will have more equipment and more room to play with so can offer something new," Ilona said.

Hari Paizi prepares a gyro out of his Paizi's Gyros food truck in 2015. Paizi's Gryos Mediterranean Restaurant, currently located at 4900 Rogers Ave. is moving into a new building currently under construction in Stonewood Shopping Center at 3310 S. 74th St. near the intersection with Rogers Avenue and Mercy Hospital Fort Smith.

New menu items are being offered to current customers on a trial basis, but one that is sticking is their baklava cheesecake. Ilona said customers have been reserving pieces of baklava cheesecake in the morning for their lunch.

Paizi's prices range from $7.69 for a lamb gyro pita sandwich – $2 dollars more for the Athenian-style “My Big Fat Greek Gyro" – and $9.79 to $12.99 for the high-end platters served with rice pilaf or seasoned fries, a side Greek salad, vinaigrette, pita bread, ZoZo's tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, and a choice of falafel, lamb, chicken, beef, shrimp or shish kabob. The full menu can be found at paizisgyros.com.

Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Their phone number is (479) 434-5808 and they cater.

A new Paizi's Gyros Mediterranean Grill is under construction at Stonewood Shopping Center on South 74th Street in Fort Smith. Petree Construction is the general contractor.

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In addition to the new restaurant, the Paizis also welcomed a new addition to the family recently. Adrian Paizi is now 16 months old and quickly becoming acquainted with the family business. Hari's older son, Ted Paizi, now has three restaurants in Minnesota: Nupa Mediterranean Cuisine has expanded, with two in Rochester and one in Mankato. This will be Hari's third brick-and-mortar restaurant. He started one while he was in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When Hair met Ilona he was still doing food trucks. They were married in 2007.

According to Trent Fonville, project manager with Petree Construction, the new restaurant has a price tag of about $800,000, which includes the $180,000 "finish out" recently approved by Fort Smith Building Safety.