Thelo Greek Grill To Open in April in Downtown Bethesda

Restaurant will take over Bistro LaZeez space

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Thelo Greek Grill will open at at 8009 Norfolk Ave.

Joe Zimmermann

The owner of Thelo Greek Grill wants his new Bethesda restaurant to be the closest to an authentic Greek experience that diners can find in the area.

Opening next month in the former Bistro LaZeez spot on Norfolk Avenue, Thelo Greek will take over the previous Mediterranean restaurant and give it even more of an Aegean flair.

Yannis Panayotopoulos, the owner, is planning to redecorate with a “typical Greek taverna look.” Hanging lightbulbs will dangle above white tables and Aegean blue chairs, while the white stucco walls will be largely kept bare, aside from a three-panel canvas picture of the island of Santorini, meant to appear like a view out of a window.

The food, likewise, will try to directly evoke the tastes of Greece, Panayotopoulos said.

“We’re not doing Greek American food,” he said in the restaurant Tuesday. “We’re doing Greek food in America.”

The menu will include gyros, barbecue, salads and authentic Greek kabobs, as well as signature desserts that will be regional specialties rather than the typical baklava, Panayotopoulos said. He aims to keep the food at high quality while also what he considers to be affordable: Kebabs will cost about $6, and most items will cost between $10 and $13, he said.

“It’s going to be the most reasonable restaurant in the area if I can do what I want to do,” he said. “Here we want to do four-star food with half a star or minus star price.”

Bistro LaZeez closed in February, and owner Ramzi Osseiran said health reasons led him to sell to a new owner. Panayotopoulos said he wanted to open a Greek restaurant because he thought there’s a lack of quality Greek food in the area. Yamas Mediterranean Grill, which is about two blocks away, also closed at the end of January.

Local blogger Robert Dyer first reported Thelo Greek’s planned opening.

Thelo Greek will be open daily for lunch and dinner. Eating in is available, but Panayotopoulos expects the majority of the orders to be takeout. He plans to open by the end of April at the latest, and a paper sign on the door announces an intended opening date of April 20.

Translated, the name of the restaurant approximates how Panayotopoulos hopes his customers will feel—Thelo Greek means “I want Greek.”

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