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A Truly Delicious Tale: The Yiayia Foods Story

Village Nostimo, Greece
Tracing the origin of Yiayia Foods takes us back to the birthplace of Yiayia’s founder, Nick Tsiros. It was there, in Nostimo, a small rural village in the mountains of Greece, that Nick began his lifelong love affair with his native Greek cuisine. Is it only coincidence that "Nostimo" translates into English as "delicious?" Yiayia Foods lovers can only shake their heads and smile.

When Nick immigrated to the United States as an 18-year-old in 1952, he continued to seek out Greek food as often as possible at regional festivals and community gatherings. He had never lost his passion for the classic Greek dishes his mother had set on his boyhood table: Spanakopita, Pastitsio, Moussaka, and Greek Salad. After serving his adopted country for two years in the U.S. Army, he went to college on the G.I. Bill, became a clinical laboratory technician, and eventually took the ultimate step of a lifelong food lover: he went into the restaurant business. As proprietor of the Edge of Town Restaurant on the Smoky Park Highway in western North Carolina, it didn’t take him long to begin responding to customer requests that he include some Greek options on the menu. The rest is (a very tasty part of) history.

Nick built his restaurant business (and his reputation) for over a quarter century. Ultimately, he settled into operating a small deli in Asheville, where his Spanakopita and Greek Salad achieved such acclaim that customers came from all over the area to enjoy them as both dine-in and take-out items. Among those customers were President George and First Lady Barbara Bush, who on a 1992 campaign swing through Asheville enjoyed a feast of Chicken Royale, Greek potato salad, Greek-style green beans in tomato sauce, and rum-laced lemon daiquiri cake. Unfortunately, they missed out on Nick’s specialty Greek Salad, because the presidential schedule called for the food to be prepared early in the morning for afternoon consumption. That wouldn’t do for Greek Salad, of course, owing to the dish’s absolute need to be consumed within a half-hour of being tossed. But what the presidential party missed out on eventually became available to his customers when Nick began packaging his salad and dressing separately, complete with written instructions for preparation once his customers arrived home. The predictable result came in the form of a question he heard from one customer after another: "Nick, how about bottling this dressing so we can enjoy it with every salad?"

Thus germinated the seed of Yiayia (Greek for "grandmother") Foods, which Nick developed upon his retirement from the restaurant business. Today, Yiayia fans across the region can delight in the singular tastes and textures of Greek specialty foods such as Spanakopita, Tyropita, Baklava, Kourabiethes, and others—all made the traditional Nostimo way. Enjoy!

Contact Information:
GG&T Corporation P.O. Box 18131, Asheville, NC 28814-0131 (828) 258-0202

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