The Tower Inn, at 701 West Cross St. in Ypsilanti, came in second place in WDIV’s “Vote 4 the Best” competition among Greek-themed restaurants in the Metro Detroit area.
The eatery was first nominated for the competition in 1998, when it also finished second.
The restaurant and bar, which is situated right across from campus near College Place, finished behind Kalamata in Troy.
Altogether there were 14 nominees, including six from Downtown Detroit’s Greektown district on Lafayette Boulevard.
Dishes like spinach cheese triangles, saganaki, pastitsio, chicken kabobs, fatoush salad and Greek pitas helped cement Tower Inn’s running in this year’s contest.
Rois Savvides, who owns the eatery with his wife Nathalie, credited big voting turnouts from Eastern Michigan University students, staff, faculty and alumni to help them secure second place.
“It’s bragging rights, and we have everyone at the university to thank in helping get us our votes,” Savvides said.
The owner plans to return the favor.
Savvides, known to staff and customers alike as simply Rois, pronounced like Royce, said he plans to hand out 15 percent discount cards to anyone who attended Wednesday’s homecoming “United We Shop” event.
The restaurant also provided free samples of their spinach cheese triangles, Mostaccioli with sundried tomatoes and a chicken breast dish to attendees of the event.
Savvides said about the homecoming activities, “We were students here, and we love the university. We love giving back.”
“Solid organization from staff, friends and family who hoped to help us get some spotlight from outside the community really helped our efforts,” said Matt Fleming, a server with Tower Inn since 2004.
Jessica Grant, a server at the Tower Inn for two years, said the staff has a good rapport with their customers.
“We have a loyal following,” she said. “I can’t even tell you how many people come in just to hang out with our staff. Our happy hour draws a ton of people… $1.99 pints? You can’t beat it.”
Daniel Peterson, a senior studying history at EMU, said he returns to Tower Inn because of their authentic take on dishes.
“I love their souvlaki, it tastes like it tasted in Greece,” he said. “And their pizza is to die for.”
Apparently, much of metro Detroit agrees.
The current owners bought the restaurant from the Roumanis brothers, who owned the previous incarnation of Tower Inn and a Cottage Inn in 1997.
Savvides was an employee of the previous owners and offered to buy out the Tower Inn after they began showing their disinterest in everyday management.
“I would come in to work and hear ‘Oh, my feet hurt, my back hurts’,” Savvides said of the previous owners.
“Finally, I said, ‘let me make your life easier’, and made them an offer,” he said.
The restaurant has been Nathalie and Rois’ lives ever since.
Savvides hasn’t stopped his support of EMU Life with the Tower Inn. He is currently working in his first semester as the instructor for HRM 350, a hospitality and restaurant management course at EMU that focuses on design and management aspects of owning a restaurant.
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