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It's Greek to Kenner 

Restaurateur Peter Hamezos doesn't want to compete with fast-food restaurants; he wants to eliminate people's desire for them altogether by introducing diners to the quick, healthful and delicious selections at his new Mr. Gyro's Greek Food Inc. (3232 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 466-6833).

Mr. Gyro's itself is not new; Hamezos operated one in the French Quarter for years before relocating to Jefferson Parish after a fire. Permitting and construction delays forced the owner to postpone a planned grand opening Nov. 7, but he hopes to open the restaurant sometime this week. The new dining room is uplifting and airy, with light blue walls and royal blue lighting and accents. Diners can sit inside among tasteful statues of Greek gods and goddesses, reliefs of Pericles or steed-drawn chariots and paintings of Greece or enjoy the weather at tables outside the front door or on a back garden patio. The patio will be the setting for barbecues featuring lamb rotating on a spit every Sunday.

Though based on the best-selling items at the old Mr. Gyros, the menu at the Kenner restaurant has been updated and refined to meet the tastes of regulars and new customers. New offerings include a salad of fresh fruit topped with either ice cream or a mixture of sour cream, honey and walnuts. "I expect it to be a big seller," Hamezos says. "We'll use fresh fruits, cut right on the spot, not cut and put in the refrigerator. It just tastes better." He takes the same approach of freshness with vegetables and other ingredients. The menu also boasts falafel, humus and other Greek dishes made with shrimp, chicken, eggplant and zucchini.

For a touch of the exotic, the restaurant offers Saganaki in which Greek cheese is placed on a special metal plate and Ouzo is poured over it and flamed tableside. For the less flamboyant, Hamezos has added meat pies to the feta cheese and spinach varieties he already offered. There's also Mr. Gyro's Burger Special to answer the tastes of the fast-food crowd. He'll serve the 6-oz. patty of gyro meat with mayonnaise if you like, but he recommends the Jaziki sauce -- a mixture of sour cream and cucumbers -- because it cuts down on the natural oily taste of the meat and adds a flavorful zing. That burger comes on French bread with lettuce, tomato, and onion and a side of french fries.

"It's fast and good," Hamezos says. "That's my intention. Everybody who has my hamburger won't go back to McDonalds." He toyed with the idea of a fast-food setup when he decided to move Mr. Gyro's but opted instead for a dining area with amenities, personality, quick service and reasonable prices where he can insure that his customers get the best food he can offer and an enjoyable experience.

"The food will be inspected by me every day," he assures. "We analyze every (recipe) and every ingredient and taste it until it is just right. There's a reason I put everything in that I do. Just a little difference can make a big difference."



Welcome to Paris

Paris Parker Salon Spa, voted "Best Hair Salon" by Gambit Weekly readers earlier this year, has opened a new spa and hair studio at Canal Place, making the fourth Paris Parker in the metro area and the eighth in southeast Louisiana.

Paris Parker (333 Canal St., Canal Place, 568-1124; 1400 Annunciation St., The Saulet, 528-1962; 4900 Prytania St., 891-8874; 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Lakeside Shopping Center, 846-5256; www.parisparker.com) is owned by Neill Corp. of Hammond, the largest distributor of Aveda products in the world. The Aveda-concept Paris Parker Salon Spas offer not only a complete line of those hair, skin and body products but also hair cutting, coloring and styling services, manicures, pedicures, facials, hair removal, microdermabrasion and photorejuvenation skin treatments.



Sweet Sounds and Healthy Snacks

Hotel Inter-Continental New Orleans (444 St. Charles Ave., 525-5566; www.interconti.com) is adding calorie-light offerings to the popular breakfast and lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, soups and luscious desserts at the hotel's casual Sweet Car cafe.

Situated on the first floor of the hotel and open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, the Sweet Car offers to-go meals, although there is some dining seating in the atrium, as well as fresh-brewed coffee, fresh breakfast pastries and specialty cakes and pies made to order by the hotel's pastry department. (Special orders for those desserts for Thanksgiving and Christmas are now being accepted.)

The new "Slim Side" menu offers fat-free muffins, oatmeal, bagels with fat-free cream cheese, whole fruit, fruit salad, fat-free yogurt, vegetable sandwiches, diet drinks and dressings and sugar-free chocolates.

To hotel also is hosting 45-minute music performances by school choirs in the lobby during December. St. Michael's School performs on Dec. 5, Louise McGehee on Dec. 5, St. Philip Neri on Dec. 9 and Trinity Episcopal School on Dec. 16. All those performances begin at noon. On Dec. 13, the North Vermillion High School choir will don traditional Victorian costumes to perform a special one-hour program of holiday favorites, starting at 4:30 p.m.

click to enlarge Restaurateur Peter Hamezos takes a brief break from the dozens of last-minute details required to open his new Mr. Gyro's in Kenner.
  • Restaurateur Peter Hamezos takes a brief break from the dozens of last-minute details required to open his new Mr. Gyro's in Kenner.
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