Restaurant News & Reviews

Thinking Greek for lunch? You will be. Athenian Grill coming downtown.

Greek beef stew is one entree option that the new downtown Athenian Grill will have in its grab-and-go section for customers who want to take lunch or dinner home. The restaurant is expected to open in March.
Greek beef stew is one entree option that the new downtown Athenian Grill will have in its grab-and-go section for customers who want to take lunch or dinner home. The restaurant is expected to open in March. Herald-Leader file photo

Athenian Grill, the restaurant and caterer that says it “can bring fresh Greek to you,” will be bringing it to downtown Lexington next.

Owner Ilias Pappas has signed a lease to put in a new Athenian Grill on the corner of the Park Plaza building facing the Phoenix Park. There also will be cafe seating outside, he said.

Pappas said that he hopes to open the new restaurant in March and serve the same Greek menu as his restaurants on Locust Hill Drive, South Ashland Avenue and in The Barn at The Summit at Fritz Farm. All the other locations will be staying open as well, he said.

Ilias Pappas, owner of Athenian Grill, said he has been looking for a while for the perfect spot to invest in downtown Lexington, where he sees exciting things happening. Tom Eblen Herald-Leader

“We love what is happening to downtown the last few years and wanted to find the perfect spot for us to open a place that will add to the fresh casual options for people that work downtown, for people that live downtown and for people that take part on all those events that happen downtown,” Pappas said.

Construction is expected to be begin later this month. Nomi Design will create the interior, giving it a look similar to that at The Summit and other locations with the signature Greek blue.

The 55-seat restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and for brunch on Saturday. The downtown location will have a wine and beer program as well, he said.

For lunch, he’s launching a menu with specials and lunch combos starting at $8.95.

“We continue day in and day out to be committed using fresh ingredients and bring to Lexington home cooked Greek meals like our moussaka, pastitsio, and Greek beef stew,” he said.

Pappas said customers will be able to order online or through Athenian Grill’s app in advance and pick up to-go orders at an area dedicated to take-out customers that will also have grab-and-go salads and “traditional dishes from our menu in a cold case for people who live downtown or people who work there and want to take it back home and warm it up for lunch or dinner.”

The restaurant will be in the ground floor of Anderson Communities’ Park Plaza apartments building, in space that had been available for events and parties. It’s next to the Panera Bread cafe, which opened at 120 East Main Street about three years ago.

Like Panera, Athenian Grill will also offer delivery to downtown customers, Pappas said.

And the downtown restaurant location will handle catering for downtown customers, too.

The Athenian Grill will be near the main branch of the Lexington Public Library and across Main Street from the courthouses. Parking will be available in the attached garage.

Pappas said he’s excited about opening a restaurant downtown, where he thinks the new 12-story City Center project across Limestone with two hotels and a Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, will draw more people to the area, along with the refurbished Old Courthouse on Main Street, where Ouita Michel will be opening a new restaurant, Zim’s, and bourbon bar called The Thirsty Fox, later this year.

“We see this as an addition to downtown,” Pappas said. “We want invest on the downtown corridor in a central location that will serve the business district and the downtown residence for years to come.”

Pappas has built a following for his Greek fare, beginning with a food truck then a tiny restaurant on South Ashland. He’s also branched out into packaged dips that are sold in Kroger stores across the state and also sells Athenian Grill food at Kroger Stadium for University of Kentucky football games. The restaurant also serves students on the UK campus.