OLD TOWN, Maine — Thomas Shanos opened his first Kosta’s Greek, American and Italian restaurant in Brewer in 2006 and last week opened his second Kosta’s on Main Street.
The Brewer spot is Kosta’s Restaurant & Bar, and the Old Town establishment is Kosta’s Bar & Grill.
Both feature the same fare, which includes traditional Greek dishes such as spanakopita, moussaka, lamb gyros, haddock plaki and others, Shanos said.
Spanakopita is a spinach pie dish made with layers of buttery flaky pastry. Greek moussaka is layered eggplant and meat filling, while lamb gyros are a sandwich dish served on a pita-style bread with a special sauce, and plaki is a dish from the island of Crete.
The menu also includes a number of Italian dishes, including shrimp scampi, fettuccine Alfredo, broiled seafood and others.
“All the sauces, all the pasta is prepared when you order” with the freshest of ingredients, Shanos said. “My wife runs the kitchen.”
The family of his wife, Elena Shanos, is from the island of Corfu, Greece, and his family lives on another Greek island, he said.
“I was born in Albania, and I escaped from there in 1990, and in 1991 I was here,” Shanos said.
Greece and Albania share a border.
When the Brewer restaurant opened four years ago, locals took their time warming up to the idea of Greek food, Shanos said.
“It took a while for a lot of people to recognize the foods,” he said. “They know them now, and we get a lot of compliments. It’s a great feeling.”
It took Shanos a year to renovate the Brewer restaurant at 429 Wilson St., which was once a Burger King, but a year after the Greek restaurant opened he added around 1,000 square feet of seating.
“Last year we did an addition and added the sports bar in the back,” Shanos said.
The Old Town restaurant, which is in the old Penobscot Times locale, features a large bar, three large televisions mounted on the walls and eight or so tables at this point. A second level is in the works, Shanos said.
The second floor, which is expected to open in the next couple of months, “has a great view of the river,” the proprietor said. “It will be for functions, birthday parties. If they want to dance, it will be all set up for it. It’s multiple-function.”
Shanos is no stranger to restaurants. He was the proprietor of Angelo’s Pizza on Stillwater Avenue for years and sold that to his sister 11 years ago. He also has opened the Orono House of Pizza, which is now run by his niece, the Lincoln House of Pizza, which is owned by a friend of his, and he is currently a partner in Angelo’s Pizzeria in Ellsworth.
The Old Town Kosta’s is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.