CRYSTAL LAKE – Archie Soulidis is ready to take on a bigger piece of the pie in the pizza industry.
After growing up in food service, Soulidis is ready to take the next step by launching a Greek’s Pizzeria location at 6000 Northwest Highway in Crystal Lake. The restaurant is slated to open in mid-December at the former Wild Orchid Thai Bistro space next to Best Buy.
Soulidis started his life in the restaurant business at 15 years old as a busser and dishwasher. He cut his teeth in the pizza industry at Padrino’s Pizza and Gaspari’s Pizza, where he became an assistant manager at 18 years old.
By 21, he opened and operated a diner in Toledo, Ohio, before leaving the food industry in 1998. So when the chance to become a franchisee of a pizzeria surfaced, it was too good to pass up.
“This is a dream come true,” he said. “I always knew I wanted to be in the restaurant and pizza business.”
Soulidis’ location will be the first Greek’s Pizzeria to operate outside of Indiana. The restaurant started in 1969 and was franchised in the 1990s. There are 14 locations in Indiana.
Soulidis said the ingredients and cooking method separate Greek’s Pizzeria from other franchised pizza places. He said pizzas feature fresh vegetables, all-milk cheese instead of skim-milk cheese, and Neapolitan, hand-tossed dough that is made fresh.
All pizzas are cooked in either wood- or gas-fired ovens. While the pizza stands out from its competitors, Stoulidis told customers not to read too much into the name.
“I always say the only thing Greek about this place is the owner,” Soulidis said. “This is a sit-down pizzeria that has a different atmosphere and concept, and I think it will fit just fine in Crystal Lake.”
The menu also features garlic butter breadsticks, calzones, gyro sandwiches, salads, beer and wine, he said, though it is a work in progress. Dine-in and carry-out options are available, as well as catering.
Soulidis said he also needed to thank the city for giving him the opportunity to get the finest equipment for his kitchen.
The Crystal Lake City Council approved a $10,000 grant to help launch the new pizza place in the Crystal Point Shopping Center. Soulidis said he used the money to help buy new kitchen equipment instead of used items and to hire employees.
Soulidis estimated he has spent about $31,300 on furniture and equipment to improve the 2,432-square-foot space and would hire four full-time employees and seven part-time workers for the restaurant.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s what Im good at,” he said. “You’re not going to work when you’re going to do something you love every day.”