Ammar Mannaa spent more than 20 years steadily building business at Mediterranean Palace, his tiny restaurant stand in Freighthouse Square near the Tacoma Dome. In less than a year, he's expanded his business not once, but twice. His latest venture, Gig Harbor's Ikonos, is an acquisition, rather than a build-from-scratch restaurant like Ammar's Mediterranean Grill, which he opened in December near the Dome.
If you've not yet been to Ammar's Mediterranean Grill, it's a short walk from the Tacoma Dome. Mannaa and his wife, Sorada, converted that restaurant from a former antique shop.
The menu at their new Dome neighborhood restaurant is more formal and slightly deeper than that offered at Mediterranean Palace, which serves portable Greek eats in a food court setting at Freighthouse, just a few blocks from their sit-down service restaurant. Mannaa's brother first operated the Freighthouse restaurant when it opened in 1989, with Mannaa taking over after his brother exited the business.
Like Mannaa's Freighthouse restaurant, Ikonos already was a Greek sandwich shop. The restaurant most recently was owned and operated by Dan Walker, of nearby Ken Walker Jewelers. Mannaa said Walker recruited him to purchase Ikonos, and Mannaa said it seemed a good time to expand once again.
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He's made few changes to the Ikonos menu, other than adding his own recipe for tzatziki and other house-made dressings and changing the cooking method for the chicken kebab. One of my favorite dishes, lamb gyros, remains on the menu. Expect minor tweaks in the coming months.
Stay tuned: I'll soon tell you about a new owner for another popular Greek restaurant.
More Gig Harbor restaurant news: The Hub Gig Harbor opened last Monday and two more restaurants are on the way in the next two months - Lunchbox Laboratory and Domo Sushi. Read more here.
Ikonos Real Greek SouvlakiOpening: Now open, with new ownershipWhere: 4920 Point Fosdick Drive NW, Gig Harbor; 253-858-7070
Mannaa's other restaurants:
Ammar’s Mediterranean PalaceWhere: 409 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-272-1047, palacemediterranean.com
Mediterranean PalaceWhere: Inside Freighthouse Square, 430 E. 25th St., Tacoma; 253-272-0845, palacemediterranean.com