Ever since high school, Yanni Kralievits has been set on opening a restaurant that served the street food he ate every summer when visiting his family in Skiathos, a small Greek island in the northwest Aegean Sea.
A Miami native, Kralievits studied business and hospitality, then went on to work as a kitchen manager at the now-closed Mediterranean restaurant Boho in Coconut Grove and later as a line cook at Ray Allen's Grown restaurant in South Miami.
"That was the best way to learn the ropes of the industry before venturing on my own," says Kralievits, who's now 29. "I was following my grandfather's advice. He always said that 'before you start anything, go ahead and do it on someone else's dime.'"
In January Kralievits launched Nostimo, whose name means "delicious" in Greek. The fast-casual restaurant in Wynwood was built on a $250,000 budget with the help of Kralievits's family and high school friend Christopher Petricone, who owns a construction company and donated materials and labor for the project.
Kralievits prioritized foot traffic and the neighborhood as a whole when deciding on a location. "Gyros are designed to eat while walking and Wynwood was the perfect choice when we opened," he said. "We're neighbors with Dirty Rabbit, Racket, and Gramps — what else could I ask for?"
When fully operational, the 1,400-square-foot restaurant will accommodate about 70 guests. For the time being, coronavirus restrictions have limited Kralievits to less than one-third of its capacity, compelling Kralievits to use his imagination to bring in customers and income, including a partnership with Simple Cater and an ingredient-and-recipe meal-kit service slated to launch in the next couple of months. The restaurant offers free delivery within a three-mile radius on orders over $30.
Nostimo's Greek street fare centers on souvlaki that turns on spits in the open kitchen, served in shareable platters with onion, tomato, tzatziki, red cabbage, and herbed rice or fries ($14 to $15). The meat options — lamb, chicken, pork, and chicken — are also offered as street-style gyros, filled with tzatziki, onion, tomato, and served with fries ($9 to $9.50).
Signature items are the Gyritto (pronounced yee-ri-to), a Greek-inspired burrito ($13); and Gyrolls (yee-rolls), a spin on egg rolls ($9); as well as Greek chicken wings dressed with fresh lemon, oregano, and feta cheese ($13).
You can also make a meal of inexpensive sides, including homemade falafel ($5 for four), feta cheese fries ($4.99), hummus ($2.50), or tzatziki, a Greek dip made of cucumbers and garlic ($3) and served with pita ($1).
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Those who save room for dessert can order Nutella baklava empanada ($4.99 each) or traditional Greek yogurt drizzled with honey ($8). Beverages include soft drinks and bottled water ($3) and Greek frappe ($4).
Navigating the pandemic with a new restaurant posed a greater challenge than Kralievits was ready for, but for now, the young entrepreneur is focused on doing the best he can.
"COVID-19 left us with no choice then to restructure and, in some level, improve our model with initiatives that weren't part of the concept from the beginning," he says. "I think about everyone that believed in me and helped me get it started and I keep going because I can't let anyone down."
Nostimo. 170 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-418-0808; eatnostimo.com. Open daily 11 a.m to 11 p.m.