By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Nick and Jim Alexopoulos—the siblings behind Two Brothers Kitchen in Anthem—haven’t seen a bleak spring like the one in 2020.
However, the community showed such love to the breakfast/lunch joint that they were able to rise above the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Nick says. “We didn’t know what to expect for takeout when it’s usually very little of our revenue. We noticed immediate support, whether it was via online ordering or just call-ins. And the community was very generous in tipping my staff.
“At the time, we had several community members who were going above and beyond, like bringing a dozen donuts to us from Sweetheart Donuts and saying, ‘We’re thinking of you.’ We just had some real heartfelt stuff. I never knew we impacted them in that capacity.”
They opened the restaurant on October 10, 2012. It was a logical step for the brothers, who grew up around restaurants owned by their father and uncles around Toronto.
“My dad and uncles were Greek immigrants,” Nick says. “Through the ’50s and ’60s, when they were in Canada, they weren’t able to get bank loans. But, eventually, I think in 1972, they were able to qualify.
“They got themselves so deep in debt by opening up a burger joint and a pizza joint. They opened a truck stop in 1977 and a banquet hall. Their last purchase was in 1995. Then, in 2005, they sold everything and we moved us all out into the rural areas, near highways and interstates.”
Nick was born in Greece and raised in Toronto. He moved to Minnesota in 1993 before heading to Anthem in 2004, the same year he obtained his U.S. citizenship. Jim moved to the Valley seven years ago.
Nick resided in Los Angeles for a bit doing appraisals. He moved to Arizona when his company opened an office in Scottsdale.
“For the last three years, I was working out of Los Angeles,” he says. “I was missing my kids. I had gone through a divorce. In January 2012, I did not renew my contract in Los Angeles with Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. I decided to come up with this crazy idea.
“You know what? Anthem needed a good little breakfast and lunch spot. Needless to say, it was me who did it. I really felt this community, based on social media, people were clamoring for something of substance—not just another pizza joint or another fast-food place. I wanted to separate myself from that. I wanted it to be a different experience.”
Nick says the plan worked.
“We’ve been fortunate that right from the start, the community supported us,” says Nick, who’s considering opening a second restaurant. “It was basically up to us. If we screwed it up, then it was on us—not on the community not supporting us.”
Because of their lineage, Nick and Jim knew what to expect when it came to restaurants.
“We weren’t naïve,” Jim says. “It takes a lot of sweat equity. It takes a lot of hands-on work. I often remember my dad and uncles talking, when we were little kids, saying, ‘We’re only as good as our customers and our staff.’ It’s resonating some 40 to 50 years later.”
The menu is simple yet effective—with light items; pancakes and French toast; traditional breakfast; eggs Benedict; omelets; skillet dishes; lunch sandwiches; burgers; soups and salads. Nick calls his signature dishes “anything with chorizo” in it, including the huevos rancheros skillet ($13) and the South by Southwest omelet ($12.50).
The former Toronto residents also push their Canadian bacon side ($5.50) because it’s authentic.
“You can’t get it anywhere,” Nick says. “Even our chorizo we get, you can’t find that at too many other places around the Valley.
“Frankly, we’re fortunate that most of our dishes on the menu are sellers.”
The price point is reasonable at Two Brothers Kitchen. Salads like strawberry fields and Greek salads range from $11.25 to $13.75. Pancakes are available as single, double, triple and gluten-free for $5.75 to $11, along with traditional breakfasts for $8.50 to $12.25. Two Brothers Kitchen even offers a nod to the area with the Daisy Mountain Skillet ($12.50), topped with diced chicken, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. Lunch sandwiches start at $8.75 for a grilled cheese and $11.50 for a cheeseburger.
Two Brothers Kitchen is practicing social distancing, seating guests at every other table. If there’s a wait, patrons are asked to wait outside or in their car until a spot opens. The staff is willing to take down cellphone numbers to call customers to come in.
“People are really excited that we’re open, and they’re thankful we’re practicing social distancing,” Nick says. “They feel comfortable, which is good because we’ve had to regain the trust of the customer base, too.
“As far as the eating experience in there, we’re not even two weeks into this. We’re still have a lot of takeout orders, but we’re doing well.”
As far as other COVID-19 precautions, Two Brothers put plexiglass on the hostess stand and sanitizing is frequent.
“We’d rather err on the side of caution to show we’re putting the health and well-being of our customer base and employees first,” Nick says. “We’re doing regular cleanups. My hosts are constantly checking the bathrooms every hour on the hour and just maintaining sanitizing and cleaning the door handles.
“I want people to feel relaxed and comfortable here,” Nick says. “It should feel welcoming, and my staff should be that way, too. That’s the environment we set up from the get-go.”
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