Toulah Suleymanian was born into the restaurant business. From the mid-1970s to the early 90s, her family operated a popular Greek restaurant in the same location as the Greek Taverna, which she and her husband Gagek run today. “When she was in middle school her parents sold their restaurant. “I cried,” she says. “I told my mother that my plans were to one day fix the place up and make it really nice.”
Though her parents had sold the business, they continued to own the building. In 2016, they decided to once gain operate their own restaurant, which has now been converted into that “really nice place,” Toulah had yearned for years ago.
Toulah says the restaurant offers “authentic Greek comfort food. We don’t do too many crazy things, but stick to the traditional,” she says. “When I eat Greek food, I like to feel like I’m eating what my grandmother or my mom would make. I feel close to home.”
For our visit, the couple prepared chicken spanakopita. “It’s my mom’s recipe. She created it,” Toulah says, describing the dish as a spinach and feta mix stuffed in a chicken breast, wrapped in phylo, and served with a creamy lemon-accented sauce. The accompanying rice pilaf is Gagek’s mother’s recipe — a nod to his Armenian heritage.
Gagek says that while the menu offers recipes from Toulah’s family, he has a hand in creating many of the specials as well as both the pizza dough and sauce. When asked about having the opportunity to work side by side with his wife on a daily basis, Gagek says, “It’s fun. We’re here together, instead of both working separate jobs where we don’t get to see each other. The best part is that we get to spend all day together. We’ve done it the other way. This is definitely better.”
Toulah says that her childhood dreams were for the restaurant to have a second level with a big banquet space. “Maybe one day,” she adds, “all our dreams will come true.”
1903 Staples Mill Rd., Richmond | 804-477-6216 | TheGreekTavernaRVA.com