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Changes afoot at Greek dining mainstay

September 27, 2017
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Taki Sawi (pictured) and his wife, Jeanette, opened Santorini Greek Kitchen in 2001. (IBJ photo)

Beginning this weekend, longtime diners at Fountain Square culinary institution Santorini Greek Kitchen might notice a few changes.

Owners Taki and Jeanette Sawi might seem a little more scarce, or might be missing altogether.

After much thought, the Sawis have decided to bring in an outside company to manage the restaurant, starting Saturday. After a transition period, they plan to devote all of their time to running the Biltwell Event Center, which they opened in 2015.

“I cannot split the time back and forth between the two businesses,” Taki Sawi told IBJ on Wednesday. “It’s hard to run two businesses at the same time. You can’t be coach for two teams that play at the same time. I had to make a decision.”

Taki declined to identify the new managers, being shy about sharing information without their explicit permission. He offered that they’re Greek and run restaurants in both Chicago and Indianapolis.

“They know the cuisine and, just as importantly, they know our community. Your Greek dining experience will be left in good hands,” Jeanette wrote in an email to frequent diners to announce the upcoming change.

The Sawis opened the original version of Santorini Greek Kitchen in 2001 at 1112 Shelby St. They moved to their current, larger space at 1417 Prospect St. two years later, in 2003.

The Sawis will continue to own the restaurant, but they’re allowing the new managers some creative leeway.

“As far as we’re concerned, it’s theirs to run as they choose,” Jeanette told IBJ.

The Sawis created the Biltwell Event Center in a 102,000-square-foot downtown warehouse at 950 S. White River Parkway that was built in 1922. They bought the structure in November 2014 and renovated it as a large banquet facility.

“This is a perfect location for weddings and corporate events, or anything else you are doing that requires unique, beautiful, charming space,” Jeanette wrote to diners. “We will be expanding our catering business to meet your needs for food at your next gathering or event. It can now include Greek food ‘a la Santorini Greek Kitchen style.’”

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