Annexed: Get Her to the Greek

In this episode of Annexed, we take a closer look at one of the mainstays of The Mall: John’s Grecian Delight. Aside from the cafeteria that caters mostly to our office workers, this is the only other eatery in The Mall.

The Brit and I have passed by “the Greek place” many times on our bi-weekly walks. We’ve peered in but never stopped. In fact, we’ve never even seen any customers in there. Granted, we usually walk by around 4 or so, which is not a real busy time at any restaurant.

The place has your typical greek restaurant decor: posters of the Parthenon on the wall,  Greek God statues on the counter and gyros table tents at each table. The furniture is fairly low-budget and the lighting is dim. Course, it’s dim everywhere in the mall [side note: I worked from the west office for one afternoon this week and the lighting in there was so much brighter – because that office actually has windows and stuff – that my eyes started to water. No joke.]

Wednesday night I had a 5:30 conference call that would run until 7ish and wanted to get some dinner beforehand or else my stomach would literally be eating me from the inside out when I was done. My options were to hop in the car and drive a few miles to the nearest fast food place (and to be honest, I know less than nothing about what is located in that part of town so I’d probably end up driving aimlessly and get lost and still not find anything to eat and then not only would my stomach be eating me from the inside out but I’d also be late for my meeting) or venture downstairs and brave John’s. I opted for the latter and took The Brit down with me for moral support.

We walked in and were immediately greeted by the restaurant’s owner. [Stupid Sarah moment of the week: asking said owner what his name was…I’ll give you a minute…yep, ok, yeah…] He is actually from Greece and still has some of the accent. He was very friendly and chatted with us the whole time he was preparing my chicken gyro plate (complete with french fries and a salad). He actually gave us a nice little history lesson too. 

John moved his restaurant in to The Mall 29 years ago in 1981. The Mall is about 44 years old. He said at that time and for many years after, The Mall was THE place to be. At one time there were 200 stores there and wall to wall people shopping every day. It was a’hustlin’ and a’bustlin! But then in 1993 The Mall was sold to a different property management company that raised rent. A lot of people left then and many more left over the next few years as a new highway was built running right in front of the mall. But, despite the fact that business has slowed way down, John has such a positive attitude and it was truly a pleasure to meet him.

I took my dinner back upstairs and it smelled so good, I literally had people following me back to my desk to see what magical concoction I had in my styrofoam container. The Indians had not been exposed to much greek food so they were particularly curious. A few of the Indians are vegetarian and were concerned there would be no options for them there. Coincidently enough, The Brit is also a vegetarian and had asked John if he had many such offerings. He said that he could make a veggie gyro and of course there were greek salads, spanakopita, and a few other offerings. The Indians were very excited and vowed then and there to have lunch at John’s the next day.

Everyone wandered away and I was left to eat my dinner. I’ll admit that I was skeptical. I mean, greek food from a 29-year-old restaurant, situated inside a dying 44-year-old mall does not inspire confidence. But, I gave it a whirl and I was not disappointed. It was yummy! Now, it wasn’t the best greek food I’ve ever had but it was good. I mean come on, greek food is pretty good no matter what. It was however way too much for me to eat in one sitting and I only got through about half of it.

The next day, I was ready to try another menu item for lunch. The Indians backed out at the last-minute but that didn’t stop Bob, me and our 2 consultants from Texas from going (the Brit was working out at our west office that day. Lucky bitch). This time I ordered a salad and spanakopita. Again, both were good enough to satisfy me. I was surprised to see that at lunchtime, John does a good business! People were steadily streaming in the whole hour we were there. Some stayed to eat and some took it back to the office. John knew many of the customers by name, just as he immediately knew Bob when we walked in and he remembered me from the night before. In fact, he called me “babe”. (Back story: Bob used to work permanently out of The Mall office and apparently was a regular at John’s. Bob has been at the west office now for a couple of years and therefore hasn’t eaten at John’s that whole time, yet John knew who he was right away.)

Today, I was geared up for the Thanksgiving lunch being offered by the cafeteria when The Brit suggested we go down to the greek place. It didn’t take much to persuade me. Ended up being the right decision as I later overheard some co-workers comment on how much the cafe T-giving lunch sucked. Bullet = dodged.

This time I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, to see how well John does with good old-fashioned American food. The Brit got the veggie gyro and Bob had spanakopita and greek potatoes. All were good. I have to admit, John’s fries are THE BOMB! They are the think cut steak fries, cooked to that perfect point where they’re crisp yet not too crisp. Awe.some. Once again, John knew who we were and he talked to me about his grand-daughter who is about the same age as Munchkin. He was such a proud grand-papa. It was so cute.

But, the piece-de-resistance of the whole thing was….wait for it…wait for it…

SCOOTER WAS THERE!!!!

We saw him as soon as we walked in and it really was the icing on the cake. It’s like the Gods of Blogging knew I was going to be writing this post and wanted to give me that extra little gem to include. Thank you Blog Gods, thank you.

[Funny Scooter story: our manager told us that Scooter has been lurking around The Mall for years. In fact, he lurked there even before he had a scooter. And he has always “charmed” the ladies. One day, when the manager and his assistant were coming back from lunch, Scooter walked by them, said hi to the assistant and then LICKED HIS LIPS! I kid you not. I about died laughing when I heard that. It was revolting and magical all at the same time.]

So, that’s the story of John’s Grecian Delight. It turned out to be a diamond in the rough and I’m glad I went in and met John. I really hope he’s able to keep the place going and continue serving up gyros with a smile. 🙂

Extra bonus of the week: the water main burst again!! It really brought the week full circle. I made sure to use the bathroom quickly before they brought in the port-a-potties. Don’t worry, I alert people as to when I’m heading to “see a man about a dog“, given the previous week’s events. If I’m gone too long people start to freak out.

Thanks for tuning in! Until next week, consider yourself, Annexed!!

The Perfect Day

Yesterday was (almost) the perfect autumn day for me. There were a few mishaps but overall, it was amazing.

It started out with CJ making breakfast for me. I’m a morning person and CJ is a night person so the weekends usually go that he stays up late while I go to bed by 9:30 p.m. and I get up early (7ish) while he sleeps in. Well yesterday, he got up around 8 and made biscuits and gravy with omelets. It was yummy! I actually don’t like biscuits and gravy but gave his a try and they were delish!

Then we hung around the house, doing laundry and various other things until it was time for Munchkin to take a nap. I put her down and then immediately jumped in the shower (all parents of little ones know how you have to time these things precisely!). After a quick shower and blow dry, I hopped in to bed hoping to God Munchkin would stay asleep long enough for me to get in a few winks. And she did! I was able to sleep for about an hour. It was heavenly.

Once she woke up, we had lunch and then got ready to head to the zoo for their Halloween Spooktacular. I had made Munchkin a mummy costume and was excited to finally try it on her. Well, it didn’t work as I had hoped. What I hadn’t considered when putting strips of fabric on her onesie was that it would take the elasticity out of it. So, I could not stretch it enough to get it over her head! I finally wrestled it over her head but then could not get her arms in. Of course she thought this was akin to torture and screamed the whole time. I finally gave up and took it off. I almost had a meltdown myself and that point and thought about skipping the zoo altogether but then took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that it was not the end of the world. So I put a plain white onesie on her, with her mummy pants and we went from there.

I was so flustered by the costume fiasco that I forgot to take a jacket with me and it was a chilly day. Not to mention that when we got to the zoo, it was so crowded that I had to park across the interstate from it (which is about a 15 min. walk). I almost turned around and went home at that point. But, I remembered that this was Munchkin’s first Halloween that she could actually participate in and kept going. I parked, got Munchkin settled in the stroller with a blanket and made the trek to the zoo.

We arrived just in time for the parade and Munchkin got much delight in seeing the costumes walk by (there were Storm Troopers, clowns, an Iron Man and even War Machine (with moving guns!)). We then walked around, looking at the animals and other kids dressed in costume.

We came to a picnic area where they had a DJ set up playing music. Munchkin immediately started dancing as soon as she heard the tunes. I parked the stroller and let her “chair dance” for a while. Then I took her out to see what she would do. She stood up next to the stroller and started dancing like crazy!

Dancing by the stroller, in her mummy pants

After about an hour of tooling around, we left and came home so Munchkin took take another nap. While she was sleeping, I did some work on the computer and then made dinner. CJ was diligently working on the house, which he’s been painting for a couple of weeks (and it is looking awesome)!
After dinner, we carved Munch’s pumpkin. I got our her shape flashcards and had her pick the shapes that she wanted to be the eyes, nose and mouth. That way, she could design it! She picked a star and octagon for the eyes, circle for the nose and rectangle for the mouth. CJ drew them on and carved away!
Once he was done, we showed Munchkin and she got a real kick out of it!
 

Munchkin seeing her first jack-o-lantern

 
 
Then of course we had CJ and Munchkin pose together!

So proud!

 
And Samson  trying to get at it!
Costumes, zoo trips, pumpkins, yummy comfort food and roasted seeds. Yesterday had all the makings of a perfect fall day! I went to bed a very happy camper.

I hate the grocery store

But I love all the food I come home with!

Grocery shopping is something I dread. I don’t like dealing with the crowds or waiting in line at the checkout or scouring the shelves for something I can’t find. Plus, the cheap skate in me sees dollar signs as I continue to fill up my cart.

To counter that, I clip coupons. Yes, I’m a coupon clipper. I don’t go crazy like some women do. I simply check the Sunday paper looking for deals on things which we normally buy. A coupon is not a savings if it ‘tricks’ you in to buying something you wouldn’t normally get.

Anyway, today I realized that I needed to bite the bullet and go. Our cupboards were getting bare and Munchkin was running out of some essentials too. So I began the process: 1) take a quick inventory and make a list of what’s needed 2) go through cookbooks and plan meals for the week. Add necessary items to the list. 3) Go through coupons and see what can be used. 4) Pack Munchkin in the car and hit the road!

I have a routine once I get to the store too. Start at produce and work my way across the store, checking off items on my list as I go. I try to stick to the list and the coupons but I occasionally add extra things. I’m also starting to “stock up” and add items that we use regularly that we might not need right away, but if it’s on sale, makes sense to grab.

Today I had Munchkin with me. She is actually a really good shopper. She sits in the cart and pretty much watches everyone. Sometimes she is antsy so I always have a good supply of toys/snacks with me to keep her distracted. Today she was in to the whole “experience” so as we walked down the aisles, I pointed out things to her that she would recognize. “Peaches!” “Red apples!” “Crackers” We got stopped by no less than 3 people telling me how cute she is. She simply flashed her best smile at them and giggled. What a charmer!

Most of the time the overhead music sort of fades in to the background for me, along with the other white noise like people on their cell phones, the chop of meat on the butcher block, the squeaky wheels of the carts, kids screaming for mom, and the beep of the cash register. But today I really noticed it because Munchkin noticed it. She was cart dancing! She would bop her head, shimmy a little, and swing her feet. It was so darn cute! That in turn made me want to dance so we moved up and down the aisles, shaking to the beat.

I was able to get lots of yummy healthy options for us to have on hand. When I got home I went in to organizational mode and started putting things away, while also tossing old items. The cupboards not only look full, but also neat and tidy!

Right now I have some chicken noodle soup in the crock pot, simmering. Dinner will be that with some whole wheat rolls and brownies or cupcakes for dessert. Yum!