After months of being empty, the old location of Le Ragazze is about to see some life as My Big Fat Greek Restaurant comes to Ahwatukee Foothills.
The Apergises say they've had their eye on the location even when Le Ragazze was still there.
"We were looking to try to get into it for a while now," said Michael Apergis, who is opening the new location with help from his family and his wife, Alisha. "I came here one day because my friend owned it. We came in here and fell in love with the people and the music they had. They had a full bar and a great flow going on here. We loved the atmosphere and the people. We wanted to do something out here. About a year ago we were looking to get out here, and finally signed (last week)."
Apergis says he's heard rumors about why Le Ragazze wasn't right for the area. He's also heard rumors about the location being cursed, but they are prepared to prove it all wrong.
"I know a lot of people say, ‘Another place in that location? It's been so many different things,' but if we didn't feel like we could make it here we would never be here and Big Fat Greek would never approve us to come here," Apergis said. "We're here to stay. We're not here to fail. We just want the community to support us and come out. Sometimes there's a lot of bad before the good and we're ready to take that. We're just excited."
Apergis has been with My Big Fat Greek Restaurant for eight years. He says when he started, as a chef, the company only had three locations. Now they're nationwide.
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant was already in Ahwatukee about four years ago, Apergis said. He had a part in that franchise along with My Big Fat Greek. At the time he was living in Ahwatukee and just fell in love with the area.
"I thought the people were just very classy," Apergis said. "I'm from New York so you see a lot of melting pot of people out here. I've been to Greece, traveled the country and the world, and it's fun to say, ‘Oh yeah, I've been there,' and hear, ‘Oh yeah, me too.' Even people that know about New York, it's fantastic. That's kind of why we wanted to come out here."
The location, at 54th Street and Ray Road, closed down but Apergis was eager to get back into the community. He has since opened up two My Big Fat Greek Expresses, one at Kyrene and Warner roads, and another at Baseline Road and College Avenue. This new location is a full-service restaurant and his own franchise.
Apergis says he doesn't plan to do any major construction on the building. The restaurant was left in good condition so all they really plan to do is give the space a "face lift," and make sure it has an authentic Greek feel to it. They plan to eventually have live music on the weekends and be a place where couples can come for date night, or the entire family can enjoy a night out. Because he has a lot of experience as a chef, Apergis says he can offer something for everyone.
They'll start accepting applications for employees this month. Applications can be picked up and returned to the Tempe location, 440 W. Warner Road, at Kyrene and Warner roads. Apergis is hoping to be open for Valentine's Day.
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