NEW YORK -- Georgios Aspiotis opened his Corfu Grill restaurant 10 years ago in Forest Hills, N.Y., offering authentic Greek cuisine not far from where the Mets play their home games.
Over that decade, he rarely has had the opportunity to watch his favorite Major League Baseball team in person. Just ask his steady clientele and you'll know why.
"I'm a Mets fan, but I rarely follow sports because my restaurant is busy, and I am here seven days a week," Aspiotis said. "So it's difficult for me to go."
That is all about to change. After two weeks of voting, fans elected Corfu Grill to become the newest member of Citi Field's culinary lineup with an outfield concourse location beginning Fourth of July weekend, as part of the Citi Small Business Call-Ups program.
"Now I have to go to make sure they're going to offer my food exactly the same quality as the restaurant," Aspiotis said.
The inaugural program gave three local restaurants in New York City a once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase their business and "take over" a concession stand at Citi Field. As part of an effort to bring New York's favorite flavors to the Mets' ballpark, Citi nominated a trio of restaurants that also included Ceetay of the Bronx and Lady M Confections of Manhattan.
"Whether by doubling our small-business lending in recent years, or surpassing our three-year, $24 billion pledge by more than $2.7 billion, Citi is helping small businesses grow," said Robert Kleiber, head of Small Business at Citi. "Providing that capital is crucial for our small-business clients, but it's just one of the ways we help them succeed. By partnering with the New York Mets on Citi Small Business Call-Ups, we provided our clients with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their businesses at Citi Field. Congratulations to Corfu Grill on getting called up to the Majors!"
Corfu Grill will benefit from firsthand exposure to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, as well as promotion through Citi-owned signage at the ballpark, media outreach, advertising and social media. Regular patrons of the restaurant will enjoy seeing its menu extended to a Major League Baseball ballpark, and many fans will learn about it for the first time.
Nestled on the upper level of the popular shopping center on Austin Street, Corfu Grill has entrees from the land and the sea, as well as plenty of pasta and vegetarian options. They're well-known for tender chicken kebabs, accompanied by a Greek salad, lemon potatoes and rice. There's a popular souvlaki plate made with cubes of tender pork, beef or lamb kebabs.
Loukaniko are handmade Greek sausages that pack a lot of flavor, as does the bifteki, which is a mildly spiced Greek hamburger. Classic gyro platter or sandwiches are available, too. Moussaka, pastitsio ... the list goes on. We'll find out what Mets fans like the most, but for now, it's clear that they simply like the thought of having good Greek food in the ballpark.
"For me, it was 100 percent this-is-happening," Aspiotis said. "Because my restaurant is the best, the best quality, and that proved it even from the votes. I was sure from the beginning."
Recognized for its top selection of ballpark cuisine, Citi Field is a food oasis for New York sports and food fans alike. Filled with everything from El Verano Taco to Pat LaFrieda's Steak Sandwich to the ever-popular Shake Shack burger joint, the stadium features some of New York's culinary all-stars. And now it's about to go Greek.
"They're going to like good quality food, something different, more traditional, a real cultural food," Aspiotis said. "They're going to step up from the hot dogs and the burgers."