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Yia Yia Mary's

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Yia Yia Mary's
Logo with the text "Yia Yia Mary's" in red lettering and "Pappas Mediterranean Kitchen" in blue lettering below
Photograph of a building's exterior from a parking lot
The restaurant's exterior
Restaurant information
Established2004 (2004)
ClosedJune 2020 (2020-06)
Current owner(s)Pappas Restaurants
Food type
  • Greek
  • seafood
Dress codeCasual[1]
Street address4747 San Felipe Street
CityHouston
CountyHarris
StateTexas
Postal/ZIP Code77056
CountryUnited States
Coordinates29°44′53″N 95°27′27″W / 29.7481°N 95.4576°W / 29.7481; -95.4576Coordinates: 29°44′53″N 95°27′27″W / 29.7481°N 95.4576°W / 29.7481; -95.4576
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Websiteyiayiamarys.com

Yia Yia Mary's (sometimes referred to as Yia Yia Mary's Greek Kitchen and Yia Yia Mary's Mediterranean Kitchen)[2][3] was a pair of Greek restaurants in Houston, in the U.S. state of Texas. Pappas Restaurants opened the Uptown Houston restaurant in 2004, and second a Yia Yia Mary's began operating at William P. Hobby Airport in 2015. The restaurants served Greek cuisine including seafood and received a generally positive reception. Both locations closed in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Description[edit]

Yia Yia Mary's was owned by Pappas Restaurants and served Greek cuisine at restaurants in Uptown Houston and William P. Hobby Airport. The Uptown restaurant's interior had a "soaring wood-beamed ceiling and stately stone walls", according to the Houston Press,[2] and featured a wood-burning grill and "omnipresent" televisions.[2] The Houston Chronicle described the interior decor as "wildly eclectic" and "full of bright signs and dramatic architecture", with a high vaulted ceiling, large wooden beams, and "impressive drop lights scattered throughout".[1] There were two stone fireplaces, both of which had large mounted swordfish above mantles, as well as a mural of Greek settings and a "luxuriously appointed" bar.[1] The wall opposite the kitchen and counter with five mounted televisions displayed Greek food signs. Guests placed orders at the counter during lunch and had orders taken by waiting staff during evening hours.[1] Staff wore jeans and blue or black T-shirts with the restaurant's logo, as of 2004. Patrons ate at wooden tables covered with blue checkered tablecloths and set with bottles of Apella wine available for purchase. Greek music played in the background.[1] Houstonia described the interior as "cavernous" and said Yia Yia Mary's was "the area's only Greek fish specialist".[4] The airport restaurant was located near Gate 1.[5]

The menu at the Uptown restaurant included seafood such as branzino, calamari, lobster, and shrimp, as well as gyros served with French fries,[2][4] lamb, moussaka, pastitsio, saganaki,[6] souvlaki (beef, chicken, or lamb), and spanakopita. Gyros had rotisserie-cooked beef and lamb in pita with onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki.[7] The lobster oregano was served with Greek salad and herb rice or lemon-buttered roasted potatoes.[1] The meze[8] (appetizer) menu had baked feta, dolmades, fried calamari, Greek meatballs,[9] and lamb chops steeped in garlic and oregano, and roasted eggplant dip.[1][10] The appetizer sampler had pita, olives, and five dips, including eggplant with garlic and olive oil, hummus, one made with red peppers and feta, skordalia, and caviar-flavored taramasalata. The "Yia Yia sampler" had feta in olive oil and was served with dolmades, pita, spanakopita, and tiropita.[7] Side salads had iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, feta, and pickled peppers.[7] Happy hour was available all day on Wednesdays, as of 2017.[11] The airport restaurant had gluten-free and vegetable-based options, as well as a falafel platter.[5]

History[edit]

Pappas Restaurants opened Yia Yia Mary's in early 2004. Chris and Harris Pappas, descendants of Greek emigrant H.D. Pappas, owned Pappas at the time.[1] The brothers named the restaurant after their grandmother Mary ("Yia Yia" means "Grandma" in Greek), and the interior displayed photographs of her.[7] The restaurant was popular early on; in March, the Houston Chronicle described a full parking lot during lunch time and the presence of traffic police outside.[1] By mid 2006, carpeting had been installed in the dining area, lowering the noise level, and standard table service had replaced the "fast-food, walk-up counter concept".[7]

In 2012, a former Yia Yia Mary's employee filed a lawsuit over wage disputes and claimed Pappas Restaurants "failed to pay Plaintiff and other wait staff the minimum wage". The plaintiff said the invalid tip pool "included workers who were not customarily and regularly tipped, including, [...] each restaurant's dishwashing staff", and sought damages to "recover compensation for [...] unpaid minimum wages, including the full amount of tips received", for current and former waiting staff "who were paid with a tip credit and required to contribute to a tip pool", and attorney's fees.[12]

The restaurant's meatloaf was featured on the menu of Pappas Meat Co., a steakhouse opened by Pappas Restaurants in 2014.[13] Yia Yia Mary's was announced as a vendor at Hobby Airport in July 2015.[14] Both locations closed in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yia Yia Mary's at Hobby Airport closed in May,[15] and the Uptown restaurant closed in June.[3][16] Employees were relocated to other restaurants owned by Pappas Restaurants.[17][18]

Reception[edit]

In a positive review published by the Houston Chronicle in 2004, The Mystery Diner recommended the lamb chop appetizer and wrote, "if you like Greek food, this is a great place to visit. And if you try the lamb chop appetizers, don't say I didn't warn you. They are maddening, they're so good." They also wrote that "[l]ike a lot of Pappas restaurants, this place is NOISY. At peak rush hour, you can hardly hear yourself think, much less chew."[1] Yia Yia Mary's was nominated in the Best New Restaurant category in the Houston Business Journal's Reader's Dining Survey in 2004.[19] In 2006, Robb Walsh of the Houston Press appreciated the lower noise level, which he said was "unbearable" upon opening.[7] He called the sampler dips and the gyro with fries "outstanding", and described the taramosalata as "excellent". Conversely, Walsh criticized the moussaka, the chicken souvlaki sandwich (which he called "too boring to finish"), and the salad with beef souvlaki, which "proved doubly disappointing".[7] He opined, "The fresh-scrubbed college kids who work as servers at Yia Yia Mary's make it possible for xenophobic Houstonians to eat Greek food without having to enter a hive of swarthy foreigners... It may be Greek, but it's still a Pappas Bros. restaurant, after all: a big, efficient, impersonal operation where the sandwiches come in plastic baskets, the bathrooms are always spotless, and you don't have to deal with any colorful personalities."[7]

Yia Yia Mary's was a finalist in the Best Greek category in OutSmart's Readers' Choice Awards in 2011,[20] 2015,[21] and 2017.[22] In her Insiders' Guide to Houston (2012), Laura Nathan-Garner recommended the appetizer menu's baked feta, roasted eggplant dip, and spanakopita for a variety of foods on a budget and wrote, "All of the options can feel a little overwhelming at this Pappas-owned restaurant. But just about everything—from the moussaka to the Greek salad to the pita to the souvlaki—is worth a try."[10] In 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die (2015), Mimi Sheraton recommended Yia Yia Mary's for pastitsio and saganaki.[6] In 2015, Katerina Papathanasiou of the Greek Reporter said Yia Yia Mary's "hosts the perfect menu of authentic Greek cuisine" and recommended the "fabulous" appetizers.[9] Katharine Shilcutt included Yia Yia Mary's in Houstonia's 2016 list of the ten best eateries in Houston's airports and called the falafel platter "heavenly".[5] The magazine's Alice Levitt included Yia Yia Mary's in her 2016 list of the city's ten "greatest" Greek restaurants.[23] The Houston Chronicle's Andrea Leinfelder recommended the Greek salads in her 2016 overview of "Houston airport dining on a budget".[24] In 2019, Amy McCarthy of Eater Houston and Darla Guillen Gilthorpe and Jay R. Jordan of the Houston Chronicle included Yia Yia Mary's in overviews of recommended eateries at Hobby Airport.[25][26]

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Food AND Texas : Mai's

Other articles of the topic Food : Edouard Cointreau, Miskender, Theory Eatery, Stoner's Pizza Joint, G.N.P.C., Mai's, Hot hamburger plate

Other articles of the topic Texas : Texas Eleven, Juan Nepomenco Flores, Texas Research Initiatives, Pat M. Baskin, Radiant Fountains, Mai's, Monroe Schwarzlose
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  • Greek-American cuisine
  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry in the United States
  • List of Greek restaurants
  • List of seafood restaurants

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Restaurant Review: Pappas goes Greek with Yia Yia Mary's". Houston Chronicle. March 30, 2004. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Yia Yia Mary's Greek Kitchen". Houston Press. Voice Media Group. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 de Luna, Marcy (June 19, 2020). "Pappas Restaurants permanently closes five restaurants". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Communications. ISSN 1074-7109. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Yia Yia Mary's". Houstonia. ISSN 2327-0926. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Shilcutt, Katharine (December 15, 2016). "The 10 Best Places to Eat in Houston's Airports". Houstonia. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sheraton, Mimi (January 13, 2015). 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List. Workman Publishing. pp. 477, 479, 500. ISBN 9780761183068. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Walsh, Robb (June 29, 2006). "My Big Fat Greek Moussaka". Houston Press. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  8. "TNH's 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List 2020: Numbers 40–31". The National Herald. March 5, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Papathanasiou, Katerina (September 11, 2015). "Houston: The Ultimate Greek Guide To… Mess with Texas". Greek Reporter. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Nathan-Garner, Laura (2012). Insiders' Guide to Houston (2 ed.). pp. 80–81. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Guillen, Darla (May 19, 2017). "Gordon Ramsay says to never order this at a restaurant, offers other dining tips". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. Ambrose, Amber (March 23, 2012). "Pappas Restaurants Sued Over Wage Disputes". Eater Houston. Vox Media. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. de Luna, Marcy (August 18, 2014). "8 New Houston Restaurants to Try This Fall". Zagat. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Mulvaney, Erin (July 16, 2015). "Southwest says vendors selected for new terminal". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. Rouege, Ciara (May 23, 2020). "What you need to know before flying out of Hobby, Bush airports this summer". KHOU. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. Malcolm, Timothy (August 1, 2020). "A List of Houston Restaurants That Have Permanently Closed During Pandemic". Houstonia. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. Ruggiero, Lorretta (June 26, 2020). "Openings and Closings: Indigo's Final Year, Petrol Station Closes". Houston Press. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  18. Homer, Michelle (June 19, 2020). "List: Several Pappas seafood restaurants in Houston closing down". KBMT. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  19. "Reader's Dining Survey results". Houston Business Journal. American City Business Journals. April 25, 2004. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  20. "Gayest & Greatest: 15th Annual Readers' Choice Awards". OutSmart. October 1, 2011. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  21. "OutSmart's Gayest & Greatest Readers' Choice Awards 2015". OutSmart. October 1, 2015. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  22. "Gayest and Greatest 2017". OutSmart: 49. October 31, 2017. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  23. Levitt, Alice (April 28, 2016). "The 10 Greatest Greek Restaurants in Houston". Houstonia. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  24. Leinfelder, Andrea (December 20, 2016). "Houston airport dining on a budget". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  25. Gilthorpe, Darla Guillen (October 11, 2019). "Where to eat at Houston airports, IAH & Hobby". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 27, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  26. McCarthy, Amy (December 19, 2019). "Where to Eat at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)". Eater Houston. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

External links[edit]


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