Evelyn Stathakes

Evelyn Stathakes of Gardendale took a short break on Tuesday at Our Place to talk about her family and her work.

• Do you own Our Place?

Yes, I’m the co-owner with my husband Stephen. We’ll be here 12 years in November. My father-in-law, George Stathakes, also works with us. He’s the former owner of The Coffee Cup in Five Points West.

• How did you get into the restaurant business?

Before we opened this place, we owned Gus’s Barbecue on Decatur Highway (in Gardendale). We had it from 1986 to 1995.

• Why did you make the change from barbecue to Greek?

We just wanted to simplify our menu. And we’re of Greek descent. My mother, Tula Chiotakis, was born in Greece. She came here in 1949 after the war.

• Do you have family in Greece?

I still have first cousins, aunts and uncles there. Being of Greek descent, we’re very family-oriented. I keep in touch with them better than I do with my American cousins.

• How do you keep in touch with your Greek relatives?

With the phone and with Facebook. I got on Facebook just to keep in touch with my cousins and their kids. It’s a good tool to keep in touch with family and to see photos of them.

• There are pictures on the wall of your family at the Parthenon. Tell me about your travels.

My kids and I went to Greece in 1999, then the family went in 2003 and 2005. We’ve all gone individually in 2007 and 2008.

• How many kids do you have?

Two. George will graduate in May from Loyola University in New Orleans with his degree in commercial music. Our daughter Dia is a sophomore at Gardendale High School.

• Are you from Gardendale?

No, I grew up in Decatur, Ill. I moved here when I married Stephen.

• Do you like the area?

I like living in a small town. I like going to the store and seeing people I know. I like knowing my customers by name. I probably know 80 percent of them by name. If I don’t know their name, I know what they eat. I think everybody wants to get to be known and appreciated.

• When you’re not at the restaurant, what are you doing?

Cooking at home.

• What do you cook?

Greek food. My kids’ favorite is pastichio, which is Greek lasagna. We don’t offer that at the restaurant, but we’re thinking about doing a Greek night.

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