We All Love Baklava

Honey, flaky filo dough, and walnuts...need we say more? Baklava (pronounced bock-la-vah) is the quintessential Greek dessert that we join our Taziki’s guests in loving. It’s the ideal ending to a meal but we wouldn’t judge you grab one for lunch or dinner.

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Many countries claim this decadent dessert as their own original creation. Placing origins aside, Baklava today is made differently in every culture. For example, the country of Jordan makes it with pistachios, Lebanon makes it with an orange blossom and rose water syrup, and Israel typically makes it with cinnamon and orange.

Unique to this dessert, there are what seems to be a hundred light and fluffy layers. It’s handmade in a bakery with real ingredients, one of our favorites is honey. We can put it down in our books as healthy, right?

Our Baklava is an authentically sourced product, made fresh from Hellas Bakery, our partner in fine Greek pastries and specialty desserts. All of their pastries are made fresh daily from only the finest ingredients. Not only are they made in-house, but they are delivered daily.

“Everything we do is about quality at Hellas. Everything is made in-house. We've been making baklava the same way for 100 years now. Pretty soon we will have our fourth generation family members working,” says Nick Karterouliotis, a family member who helps run the bakery. “Taziki's does business in the same fashion so it just makes sense to have two similar partners.”

For us, living the good life equates to balance in everything. We work, have fun, eat salads and baklava. We share moments together over food and know it’s nourishing power to our bodies and our souls. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and fully enjoy that piece of baklava today! Life is too short, don’t skip dessert!


Taziki’s Is Thankful: A Note From The CEO

Taziki’s family, as we look back over this past year, we have so many things to be thankful for. Without our amazing guests and staff members, none of our achievements this year would have been possible.

Our team wanted to share what we are thankful for as we approach the holiday season. We made a special video just to share with you:

We invite you to tell us what you are most thankful for you by commenting on either our Facebook or Instagram posts. We will be choosing a lucky winner on each platform to receive a $100 Taziki’s gift card! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, November 21st.

You can comment on Facebook by clicking here. If you want to double your chances for a gift card you can comment on Instagram by clicking here.

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe


National Feast Day!

National Feast Day Giveaway is Coming!

We know you all loved our National Gyro Day giveaway, so we’re excited to bring you another exciting opportunity to win something special! We’ve deemed December 1st, Taziki’s National Feast Day!

We’re giving you a clean and seamless chance to share in the goodness that comes with easy ordering and stress-free dining.

On December 1st, order your Chicken Feast through our app for a chance to win a Free Chicken Feast a week for a year! We couldn't be more excited to share in the spirit of giving this holiday season!


We will announce one lucky winner on our app, social channels, and blog on Friday, December 7th.

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Before you go, we’ve made it even easier for you. Get started by downloading our Taziki’s app here!

Good luck, friends!


Looking Forward To TAZ Rewards: A Note From The CEO

The holiday season is nearly upon us and this time of year reminds me to practice gratitude and generosity. With so much to be thankful for, we wanted to offer a tangible expression of thanks.  After increasing our online and to-go orders by over 60% in the last six months, we knew it was time to develop something special to elevate our online and app experiences. With that said, we are excited to announce a newly designed version of our app and introduce you to TAZ Rewards, a built-in loyalty and rewards program this winter.

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COMING SOON

Our gift to you this holiday season is when you dine with us in the restaurant or order online, you can earn rewards. Your path to a reward will be clean and simple. Soon, for every $5 you spend, you’ll earn a star. Get to 25 stars, and we’ll share a $10 reward that you can apply to a future meal!

By providing our regular guests with the opportunity to enjoy complimentary Taziki’s, we hope to make it a little easier for everyone to #livethegoodlife this holiday season and beyond. We thank every single guest who has believed in what we do for over 20 years. We applaud you for joining us in seeking a healthier lifestyle. You are the reason we source authentic ingredients from the Mediterranean, from American farmers, and local produce partners in the towns we serve. You are the reason we go to such great lengths prepare every meal from scratch every day. These are things we’re thankful for.

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With TAZ Rewards, we welcome you into the inner circle, and our family of regulars and insiders. As our guest, you allow us to achieve our mission to create an environment that combines extraordinary food with meaningful human connection!

Want to get ready to earn your first reward? Download our app and it will ping you when TAZ Rewards is launched! After that, you can join either in-store or through our Taziki’s app.

With Gratitude,

— Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe


Six Health Benefits Of Greek Yogurt

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Did you know that one of the oldest fixtures of the Mediterranean diet is Greek Yogurt? Greek Yogurt is both delicious and healthy.

Some of the benefits include:

  • High amounts of protein to build and repair tissues

  • Vitamin B12 the nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy

  • Iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions.

  • Calcium to build bones and keep them healthy. Also enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat.

  • Good fats -- like omega 3’s and unsaturated fats which reduce inflammation and help you stay full longer

  • Probiotics giving us microbes in the lower intestinal tract that help digest food, fight harmful bacteria, and regulate the immune system.

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Notably, the probiotics in yogurt are really what sets this food apart from other dairy products. Probiotics keep your gut healthy and in-turn, keep your brain healthy as it is said your gut is your “second brain”! Greek yogurt is a perfect after-workout snack, breakfast, substitute for sour cream and mayonnaise, and can be the perfect addition to many appetizers, main dishes, and even desserts. Here’s a link to one of our favorite at home recipes for a post-workout snack.

At Taziki’s we recognize how Greek yogurt as a powerhouse food! As we fully embrace the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle, we choose to incorporate it as a staple ingredient in our Taziki Dip, which is a guest favorite appetizer.

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Greek yogurt combined with fresh cucumber and lemon creates this light signature favorite and we pair it with soft pita slices or baked pita chips.

DID YOU KNOW?

Yogurt has a long history dating back to the 6th Century B.C. in Turkey. It is believed that Central Asian herdsman stored goats milk in containers, which led to fermenting, thus came about yogurt! Over centuries, yogurt has evolved into many varieties, and expanded from home production to mass production. It is a staple in many diets throughout the world, especially the Mediterranean diet. In particular, Greece has long used it as a base to their tzatziki dip and as a dessert, with honey and spooned sweets on top.

What Does Winning Look Like? Good Choices.

By: Mike Smith

I grew up in Wentzville MO.  It is a small town about 40 miles west of St Louis MO.  Wentzville is not a place of historical significance with only a few notable residents. The town considered itself the “Crossroads of America” due to the fact it just happens to be the location that Interstates 70 and 40 intersect.  It was a blue-collar community driven around manufacturing, construction, and farming.

As a young kid, I hated vegetables.  This may be partially because I associated them with working in our 1-acre garden.  Other than picking the strawberries, which were in my mind the only reason we should even consider this laborious endeavour, I wanted nothing to do with it.  We also butchered our own hogs and steers at my uncle’s farm. This labor I was a little more bought into because it yielded the salivating rewards of steaks and bacon we could feast on and grill for the next year.  Again, this had to be done in a hard way in the dead of winter to keep the meat cold during the butchering process.

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As my parents aged and my older brothers moved away, there was less labor to be shared in our own food production and my family yielded to the habits of the changing world and buying cheap and often processed foods.  Sometimes, we would visit the local produce stands or pick fruits in season, but when those were unavailable processed foods were everywhere.

I often opted out of boring meals all together and just went to my room or went to bed early until football re-entered my life.  Sports were a big part of life growing up, but until high school, it didn’t truly matter. Enter the “Friday Night Light” effect. To be a contributor I had to get bigger, faster, and stronger.   To do this I had to gain muscle and healthy weight.

Exit junk and processed foods. I started making my own dinners or at least my own sides at family dinners.  I made requests around different shopping choices and my parents were supportive enough to buy the healthier foods I requested.  Often times I would cook the majority of the meal for the family so I could have it the way I wanted. Food was the one luxury we could afford and so began my experimentation with food and quest around a healthy lifestyle fueled by great tasting food.  

The passion for fitness I learned playing high school sports carried over to college and beyond.  From humble beginnings at the “crossroads of nowhere,” I have been lucky enough to get out and see some of the world.  I spent 13 years in San Diego where the mountains and beach were always just a bike ride or short drive away.

Today almost every trip I take has some adventure or fitness event attached to it.  I have been so fortunate to hike the coasts of Hawaii, Dolomite Mountains in Italy and to the base of the Eiger in Switzerland.  I have snowboarded in 4 different states, jumped off cliffs, and climbed waterfalls in Jamaica. My list of what to do next is just getting started.

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A couple years ago I made the trip to Birmingham to meet with the Taziki’s team.   I ate at several restaurants in Nashville and Birmingham and fell in love with the food. When I became a part of the Taziki’s team it was the first time that I was able to connect my passion for healthy and flavorful food with my career.  

Too many times in the restaurant business we sacrifice our healthy souls for a little extra flavor or to give a giant portion that creates an artificial perception of value.   Value is balancing natural flavorful foods that fuel us to thrive in other areas our lives. Today, I am fortunate enough to be a part of a team that wants to share that philosophy with our guests and we execute it every day.

Anyone that has been around me knows that I am competitive and love a challenge.  We have been competing with humans and nature for thousands of years and we compete to win.  In order to win we have to define what it takes to win or at a minimum what winning looks like.  What does winning look like to me?

Winning looks like living a fit and active lifestyle.  That includes traveling and trying the food inspired by people around the world.  For you, winning might be getting off the couch and running your first 5K or hitting the gym in your hometown.  Either way, I hope next time you sit down to eat you look at your food as a choice that fuels your life and that your life is if nothing else is an adventure.

What am I working on next?  My goal is to do 100,000 push ups before the end of the year and my next adventure – Tough Mudder Nashville.  Looking to build my team for both goals. If you want to join me reach out and connect!

How I "Live The Good Life": Red Williams

June 1st, 2016 is the day my life would forever be changed.  I’ll never forget showing up to Flywheel and feeling so out of place.  Everyone there was perky and had the ideal physique bodies. In my mind I kept thinking “I don’t belong here.  This is embarrassing. Abort mission!!!” However, when we got into the studio, you could immediately feel the energy shift from fear to excitement.  Our instructor, Joyce McNally, came right up to Nikki and me to introduce herself and get us set up on the bike to make sure we were comfortable.

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I could tell right away that this woman loved what she does and that this was going to be something special.  And it was. The lights went down and the music went up. It was the perfect atmosphere to focus on you and only you.  To feed off the energy that was in that studio. To close your eyes when you needed to just let go and get lost for a bit. The endorphins hit me for the first time in a LONG time.  I was immediately hooked! I was completely terrible, but hooked nonetheless.

I ended up buying a monthly membership at Flywheel so I could go an unlimited time each month.  At first I was only going 1-2 classes a week. However, once I started seeing and feeling results, I became addicted.  So I started going at least 4 times a week. It started to become my passion. The community there started to become family.  We would all push and inspire each other. Not only does Flywheel offer spin, but they also have a Barre room that I was scared to death of.  But with persistent pushing and encouragement from friends and instructors, I took my first step in that room on March 1st, 2017. And that made all the difference my last year at Fly.  For 2 solid years, Flywheel was a catalyst to something I never thought could happen.

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I never believed I would be in love with taking care of myself again.  Before Flywheel, I was in a dark place. I didn’t even realize how bad of a place I was in until I started shedding off the weight.  With each workout, and each pound lost, I was slowly finding my smile. My heart was starting to wake back up. My soul was starting to burn again.

All I kept thinking after walking out of that studio was “I never want to lose this feeling.  Everyone should feel like this at some point. In some way.” 2 years at Flywheel taught me what living vs existing meant.  And I know now that I’m LIVING my best life because I have found myself.

When I realized I wanted to move back to Birmingham, I had to start mentally preparing for not seeing the studio on a regular basis.  I struggled with that a bit. Actually, that was the hardest mental struggle I dealt with. I wasn’t sure I was disciplined enough to hold myself accountable the way my #Flyfam did.  I had hit a wall as far as weight loss, so I thought it would be a good idea to start weaning myself off of the bike and getting into a gym to switch up my routine.

Another good friend of mine took me to Planet Fitness one day and showed me a dozen exercises or so.  She knew what I wanted to work on the most, so she made sure I had some things in my arsenal to start. It felt good to actually lift heavier weights and start working with muscle groups differently.  Again, once I started seeing results, I was hooked.

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Once I started getting on a routine of going to work out by myself, along with catching a spin class 1-2 times a week, I realized a switch had flipped inside me.  I realized that I would be ok to move back home. That working out had become a lifestyle. I recognized that on some of my bad days, I craved working out. That my time in the gym is the most quality “me time” I can get.  It is where I go to shut everything else out and commit an hour and a half to myself. Because I’m worth it. I love myself too much to go back to that dark place. I will forever remember that dark place. Because it is a very real place.  But I’m strong enough to keep it at a distance.

Now that I’m back, I have kept up with going to Planet Fitness 3-5 times a week.  I’m always researching different workouts to fit into my goals. Goals are so important to have.  When I started Flywheel, I never had a weight loss number in mind. But, once I got on the scale and started to see that number go down, I made goals each month.  Small goals like 5-6 pounds a month (I had it to lose). I still have goals, but the weight number isn’t as important anymore.

Now it’s all about how I feel.  I also believe in rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal.  My biggest goal crusher was breaking the 200 barrier and getting into “one-derland” for the first time in 15 years!  And when I did that, I rewarded myself by doing something that scared me to death…I went zip lining. It was the most liberating experience.  My next goal for 2018 is to be able to a 5k without walking. FYI – I LOATHE running.

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I hope my story has reached someone that has been playing with the idea of becoming active.  If it’s to lose weight or simply just to get out there more and enjoy life. Do not let your mind set you back.  Mine did for far too long. And some days I have to remind myself how far I’ve come to refocus. Get out there and take the first step.  That’s the hardest part. But once you take that step, all you’ll have to do is put one foot in front of the other to keep going. I never would have guessed spin was the key for me.  You never know what’s out there that could reignite your spark! Go feed your soul! You’re worth it!

Living the good life is something we embrace daily but it’s also an aspect of our life that is long term. I’d love to hear how you find happiness outside of your workspace. Feel free to share on our Facebook page!


How I "Live The Good Life": Andy Chirico

By: Andy Chirico, Digital Strategist

Crossing the marathon finish line with the clock showing 2:55 brought one thought to my mind -- “Eudaimonia”. A rush of happiness, pride, and fulfillment filled my spirit as I knew it was at that moment I hit a high of “living the good life”.

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At Taziki’s, we hold the culture of living a life full centered around eudaimonia, which is translated as “human flourishing”. We emphasize the opportunities to embrace the "The Good Life" whenever they present themselves.  We all have activities or hobbies that bring us this happiness. For me, it comes from running.

I recently completed the Big Cottonwood Marathon with hopes of a Boston Qualifying time, aka, a BQ. For my age group, I have to run a 3:05 marathon which seemed impossible after running my first marathon in 3:19. Achieving this seemed far from realistic but the challenge couldn’t be turned down.

 I was able to enjoy great food while keeping my diet in check. Yes, I still had some of our Whipped Feta Appetizer because it’s just too hard to turn down.

I was able to enjoy great food while keeping my diet in check. Yes, I still had some of our Whipped Feta Appetizer because it’s just too hard to turn down.

After months of training and dieting down (there were several Taziki’s meals- Mediterranean Salads with chicken were a staple in my diet), I was able to run this race in a 2:55 which ultimately got my goal accomplished with a time that qualified me for the Boston Marathon! Fortunately, the support system was like none other during the process. My family, friends, and coworkers all were key contributors to the accomplishment.

I’ll never forget the messages on my phone when I finished the race. Not only did I pick up a big win, but everyone on my team did too. This truly was a group effort.

Being able to see Utah is an experience I will never forget. Driving up to the top of the canyon and taking everything there was to offer was a surreal moment (did I mention it dropped a quick 20 degrees from the drive up?). The opportunity was something special and made me reflect on how lucky we are to be able to do things that we enjoy with people that are special to us.

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Living the good life is something we embrace daily but it’s also an aspect of our life that is long term. I’d love to hear how you find happiness outside of the office. Feel free to share on our Facebook page!

Up next- Boston!

The Not-So-Secret To Success: A Note From The CEO

Taziki’s family, something special happened last month. Taziki’s was named as one of Inc 5000 fastest growing companies! Wow! To be listed among the 5000 fastest growing companies when there are over 30 million companies in the US is something the entire Taziki’s family is proud of. Being recognized is another milestone we are able to celebrate and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed as we continue to celebrate our 20 year anniversary, alongside and nearing the opening of our 100th location! Whew, 2018 has been a good one!

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People often ask me, how did we do it? There really hasn’t been a secret recipe to achieving these special milestones. Instead, we’ve honed in our approach, focusing authentically on the fundamentals and letting the success follow. Our plan has not been fast growth, rather smart and sustainable growth. So, yes, I feel this award is well deserved - and a credit to all the world-class cashiers, line cooks, managers, local partners and everyone at the support office who collectively help Taziki’s grow smart.

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Our smart growth starts by collaborating with the right franchise partners in communities across America. We know sustaining this growth is only possible through our people and culture which continues to develop over time. We have followed the same process at the corporate home office by focusing on people and culture, finding and developing A players and living out our five brand values and company mission.

The future of Taziki’s looks brighter each and every day as long as we keep accepting the daily invitation to live out our mission which is to create an environment that combines extraordinary food and meaningful human experience. We will continue to fulfill our purpose of helping people and communities flourish, or as they say in the Mediterranean -- Eudaimonia which means, “to live the good life”.

Whether it’s lunch, dinner, or catering, find a location near you here to discover the best of the Mediterranean around our table or yours. For franchising opportunities, visit our GrowWithTazikis website, which includes information about how to join our family as an owner.

Thanks for going on this journey with us! We’re thankful for our friends like you!

-Dan

CEO, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

YAY! National Gyro Day Giveaway Winner!

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This year wasn't the first time we've celebrated National Gyro Day at Taziki's. To be honest, we celebrate this holiday on a daily basis because we love gyros as much as you do! But this year we did it BIG! On September 1st, we encouraged all of our gyro-loving friends to purchase theirs through our app or online for a chance to win free gyros for a year -- and man, did they ever! We had such a great turnout through mobile ordering, it just further confirmed our suspicions that Taziki's lovers also love the convenience of technology.. and so do we!

After keeping our lips sealed as long as we could, it's finally time to share who our lucky National Gyro Day Winner is! Drum roll, please....

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Congratulations to Lynn Peters of Cincinnati, Ohio for winning our National Gyro Day Giveaway! Lynn (and her daughter Julia) have been guests of our Deerfield location in Mason for awhile.

Lynn took convenience to a whole new level by not only ordering through our app, but also enjoying the luxury of having it dropped off at her car window, curbside!

Thanks to all of our guests who participated in National Gyro Day on September 1st! We’re thrilled Lynn will be saving some meal planning time over the next year as she gets a free gyro a week for a year! Cheers, Lynn!

New Whipped Feta at Taziki’s

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CREAMY, LIGHT GOODNESS (YOUR NEWEST ADDICTION).

For nearly 20 years, you’ve been telling us how much you love our Signature Hummus with soft and baked pita (or gluten free with veggies, we can’t forget you!). And we know better than to mess up a good thing. But choices are also a good thing and we felt like hummus needed a partner in crime. After being inspired by the use of feta in the Mediterranean, we knew it would be perfect for the job. Turns out, we were right. Our creamy, savory, Signature Whipped Feta is not only the most crave-worthy item on our menu, it’s available at all your favorite Taziki’s locations and we’re proud to make it with fresh, authentic Mediterranean ingredients. Drop the mic!

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SIMPLE IS DELICIOUS.

We’ve realized you love this stuff as much as we do. And it’s hard to walk away without consuming every single bite (and pita slice). The recipe is simple, just fresh feta, cream cheese, a little mayo, spices and honey -- plus a sprinkle of parsley to finish. We won’t judge you if you lick the plate.

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It’s okay if you want to Order It Right Now. We’ll have it ready for you!

Order Now!

 

Time for Dinner

By: CEO, Dan Simpson

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I’ve heard it said that when you’re raising a family, “The days go slow, but the years fly by,” and it seems to be true. My wife and I are blessed with three spirited kids, ages 8-14 and we try to keep up with all the activities that make up their childhood. Our schedule is made up of school carpools, the boys in club and school soccer games, our daughter in ballet practices and recitals, all the while, squeezing in time for both parents work. Most weeks, I’m on the road with Taziki’s.  Our life, like many of yours, is an on-the-go lifestyle and so dinners are often something we pick up on the way from here to there.

We’re all pretty intentional eaters so we try to limit fast food to once or twice a year and the rest of the time, we’re looking for something nutritious and delicious which limits our options. With home gardens, and a family who loves to cook, we make most of our meals and even pack food if we’re heading to the park, the community pool, or on a road trip. The kids sometimes lobby for Chic-fil-A on a Saturday on the way back from a soccer game, or Nashville local, Hugh Baby’s to indulge in a craft burger and shake, but otherwise, everyone typically asks for Taziki’s or a similar made-from-scratch healthy option. Long before my role with Taziki's, my kids loved Sneaky Taziki’s from the kids menu and my wife and I enjoyed the feasts and dinners for our family meals. We have multiple Taziki’s nearby so a location is nearly always on our way.

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Still, we are kind of old-fashioned in some ways and still try to make family dinners happen around our dining room or kitchen table. Every Friday is pizza and movie night, a tradition which we’ve continued since the kids were still asking for Disney cartoons. When we’re all home at the same time, we try to eat together.  We go around the circle and share highs and lows from the day and even try to pull off a weekly family meeting where everyone ranks how we did at being a family and how each of us can do better. Don’t get the wrong idea. We have lots of protest, meltdowns and interruptions so it’s not often as idyllic as it might seem, still we work hard to come together around a table of food to keep conversations alive between the five of us.

The ultimate splurge is to go out to dinner. There is no table to clean up or dishes to wash. My wife and I will order a glass of wine to kick off the evening, as there’s always some reason to toast life. Our daughter orders from the kids menu (and always asks for dessert before she identifies an entree). Our middle son, who’s 11, desperately wants to be grown-up and hates being identified with the kids menu so the compromise often involves he and his older brother splitting an “adult” entree. We’re working on gratitude in our home, so we often have them just order water.  For us, dinner at Taziki’s is a quiet get away. There aren’t TV’s so there’s room for conversation and we leave feeling full but light. We sometimes give in to the Baklava, from the famous Hellas bakery, and enjoy every last bite.

This summer and fall, whether you find yourself having dinner at "Movies in the Park”, gathering around a table at home with family and neighbors, or end up at your local Taziki’s as our guest, we invite you to rediscover the connections that can happen over the dinner table - our table or yours.

Meet Roseanna Rubio Cox (Marketing and Catering)

 Living the good life through country music.

Living the good life through country music.

I'm a Native Texas girl from Odessa, Texas, married to Brian Cox, a mother of two boys, Manuel (age 31) and Victor (age 29), and best of all Nana to my 3 grandbabies, Lily (age 6), Chrissy (age 6 ) and Kai (age 5).  I have been with Tazikis for three and a half years now as the Marketing and Catering Director in Huntsville Alabama. 

What is your favorite part about working for Taziki's? 

The HOPE Project (Herbs offering Personal Enrichment). It is a project that helps our special needs adults to empower and inspire special need students teaching them job skills.

How do you encourage your employees to deliver excellent customer service? 

To welcome and greet every customer with a smile as if they were a guest in your home.

What do you find most challenging about working for Taziki's? How have you worked around this challenge?  

The most challenging thing about work is working with people who are not team players. The best ways to work around these challenges is to have a weekly meeting and let each team member know how important everyone's role is to make the restaurant successful.
 
Is there a person within Taziki's whom you have found particularly inspirational/motivational? 

 Yes, Christina and Samantha Morris. They are Taziki's special needs twins (we call them the Tazikis Twins). They are such hard-working young ladies and are always willing to learn. They constantly show that if you work hard and apply yourself you can do anything you want.  The twins are amazing team players.  They never complain and always have a big smile on their face.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home? 
Texas Brisket – the best there is. 

Why I Chose to Eat Taziki's While I was Pregnant

Are pregnancy cravings a real thing? Not sure I would have said yes before I was pregnant myself, but I giggle to think about how much I thought about tomatoes when I was pregnant. Yes, TOMATOES! I guess it’s good I wasn’t thinking about Taziki’s Dark Chocolate Cake 24/7 (although I did partake when the opportunity presented itself). 

I was so excited to tell my husband last September that we were expecting our first baby, due to arrive in June of 2018. And I feel like I had all the cliché pregnancy symptoms, minus morning sickness – thank goodness! That’s why I was so thankful for Taziki’s because I could find filling, healthy options that actually made me excited for my meal. I’ll be the first to say that when you’re pregnant (especially for the first time) you are bombarded with opinions and blog posts that can make you think you are doing everything wrong as a mother. One thing that always made sense was to be mindful of what you are putting in your body. 

It was difficult to have the energy to get to the gym, but it was 100 times easier when I was eating nutritious, full-bodied meals that were fresh-made. When I was too tired to make something for my husband and me for dinner I would pick up a Dinner for 4. When I needed a healthy snack I would opt for the hummus served gluten-free. And like I mentioned, everything had extra tomatoes. Like an absurd amount of tomatoes. Through the many trips to Taziki’s I was even reacquainted with my first Taziki’s love – Signature Pasta. 

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Now that my precious Ellie is here, I look forward to the day that she gets to experience Taziki’s many amazing kid options. Even as an adult I’ll order the Turkey Melt – it’s delicious! And when I look back at the 9 months of sweetness that I got to be pregnant with my baby girl – I’m thankful that I chose to “treat” myself with food that my doctor would approve of… a win-win for sure! I encourage my fellow ladies – mommas or not – to take a look at Taziki’s Nutritional Facts to see how they stand up against many other restaurants. 

About Anna:

Anna Duffy and her little family live in Dallas, Texas. She has been an avid lover of Taziki’s since someone brought her to the Colonnade location on her first week of college in 2009. She is excited to see how the brand has grown since that first meal and she’s thankful for two locations in Dallas!

Reflecting On My Time At Taziki's

Today, after 8 years, I say a bittersweet goodbye to my first and only job out of college at Taziki’s as a Marketing Director! When I was hired, I was 22, and I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would be in my life, but I am so thankful God knew and placed me exactly where I was supposed to be. I was hired to market our newest upcoming store at the time in Tuscaloosa, but after training in all of our Birmingham locations, Keith decided he needed a full time LSM in Birmingham so he hired me to market for our 6 Birmingham Stores.

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About two years later, we hired another LSM to split the territory and a few years later we hired two more and now we have four. I’ve loved working with all these wonderful co-workers through the years. When I started, we didn’t have marketing training material, a marketing department, promotional material, and I met people every day who were still learning about Taziki’s. It’s been cool to see our marketing department grow from the ground up as well as our company grow from 7 locations to 85.

I’m really thankful Keith believed in me from the beginning and gave me leadership opportunities because it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I really grew as a person and it’s made me the person I am today. Some of my favorite memories with Taziki’s would be getting to help plan and lead our first marketing conference with Seth Williams, our VP of marketing at the time, who’s the hardest working and nicest man ever. I also got to be our Marketing Specialist Coordinator, so I was able to stay in touch with all of our LSMs and travel to new places helping to open new stores, which led to meeting so many friends and co-workers not only in Birmingham but across the US.

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I was given the opportunity to travel to New York City, Fort Lauderdale, and Atlanta to market Taziki’s Franchise which was not only really rewarding to be a part of, but really fun! I think the best memories were the lifelong relationships and friendships I’ve made and getting to see how much the company has grown while growing myself as well. While I’ve been at Taziki’s, I’ve gotten engaged and married, gotten pregnant for the first time and had my first baby, and then my 2nd, and now baby number 3 is growing in my tummy.

I’ve been so very thankful that Taziki’s wanted the best for me and let me keep my job that I’m so passionate about while being a mom, which I’m very passionate about as well. It’s been such a blessing to have a Godly boss that wanted the best for me and appreciated me through the years, and seeing how much he gives back to the community and people in need is life-changing on its own. Birmingham is lucky Taziki’s started here and has had the most delicious food for 20 years now, but also lucky to have a Godly leader being a role model for our community and helping others in need, while growing the brand across the US with a great team.

I’m forever grateful God placed me here, not realizing He had a specific plan for my work life while also growing my family. I’m very thankful to get to be home with these little ones while they are little and learning important things in life, but I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Taziki’s! Thanks everyone and #tazlove for life!--

Calories Aren't Everything

By Sam Stamps:

Diets. Counting calories. We have all been there.

We all want to look good in that cute swimsuit this summer, so we plan (a lot of soul-sucking planning) a diet and how many calories we can have in a day. I have spent many of hours planning what my diet will be and how many calories I can have for each meal, then by dinner I only have 200 calories left so I am left feeling hungry. However, I only ate the number of calories I was supposed to have! We all think that keeping track of how many calories we consume is key for weight loss. Well, sad news - not all those calories may be beneficial to my body if I want to lose weight and look great in that cute swimsuit at the beach.

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Calories are how much “energy” a food contains. Calories do not show you the entire picture of food; they are only a small portion of the equation. Most of the time you cannot cut out 100 calories a day and expect to lose 10 lbs. Let’s say you go to a restaurant, they have this menu item, let us call it green goo, that contains high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and sulfites, and it only has 100 calories. They may claim the food as “healthy” because it “only has 100 calories!”

Is it healthy for your body to have those ingredients? It’s important to read labels and see what all you are putting into your body. I know I know, reading labels is annoying, but if you are wishing for that rocking body for the summer, it’s important and beneficial.  

Dieting only handles the symptoms rather than the cause. Let’s say that you have a clogged toilet and the plumber comes and says, “Ok, ma’am, you need to stop using your toilet, which will help the clog.” See, the plumber did not really fix the clogged toilet, only the symptoms. Eating poor quality foods may throw your fat-burning, appetite-taming hormones out of sync. We as people need to look at the long-term solution instead of a short term. If you eat healthy, whole foods, you do not have to count calories.

Think quality over quantity.  It is also important to look at how much you are exercising, how much sleep you are getting and how stressed you are. Losing weight is an individual process; you need to do what is best for you. People always tell me, “Oh, you should try this awesome diet! I lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks!.” So I try this “awesome” diet, and I only lose 1 lb in 2 weeks. Just because that “awesome” diet worked for that person, does not mean that my body will react the same way.

Your body does not treat all calories the same. If you eat high-quality foods that are rich in nutrients, like leafy greens, nuts and chicken, you will fill up quickly and it will keep you full longer. It can also trigger the release of hormones that tell your body to burn fat (yay!). If you are eating processed foods or foods with added sugar and refined grains, they may not be inherently satisfying and you may end up overeating.

These foods may prompt your body to store fat (boo).  Sometimes counting calories may have you ignoring hunger cues. I have 400 calories left for the day, I need to use them all, but I am not hungry. Guess I will eat anyways. I am 300 calories over for the day! I cannot eat anything else, but I am so hungry. It’s important to listen to your body, it usually knows what is best for you. In the past, I have been able to get away with eating low-quality food and lose some weight, but I did not feel as energetic and not as satisfied. So, I always end up eating more than I should and then feeling more tired.

If you overeat one day, do not freak out and continue to overeat because you feel you have ruined your diet - that makes you gain weight. One cheat meal (meal, not day, very important) is not going to ruin everything that you have done. Your body can handle the extra food without making you gain weight. It is healthy to keep your mind sane and happy; there is no use in completely punishing yourself. Just do not make a habit of eating like that every day. I know when I have focused on how many calories I have left, I am not enjoying myself or the food I am eating. Why punish yourself when you can eat delicious healthy food?

When I have counted calories, I feel so restricted, out of control and not enjoying myself as much. I was worried about what I could eat at my next meal and if I was going to stay within my calories for the day. I have tried so many diets and failed at so many diets.

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I decided in January of this year that I was finally going to listen to my body. I am now eating whole and high-quality foods. I find recipes that I enjoy and that my body enjoys as well. My body has told me that I do not react to grains and dairy that well. I have more energy now that I have decreased those items (plus items such as soy, beans, and alcohol) from my diet. I am enjoying myself so much more and I am not spending so much time trying to do math with how many calories I can have. I am exercising more and my performance in my workouts has increased. I feel more energetic and not wanting to take as many naps, (I still love naps).

As of today, I have lost 30 pounds just by choosing to eat whole and healthy foods (like Taziki’s!) and watching my portion control. I was able to run a half marathon (not running the entire time, let us be real). Now, I still have my cheat meal every now and then, but I am not feeling as guilty when I treat myself to a sweet treat. So, listen to your body and live the good life!

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About Sam:

Samantha was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and has worked for Taziki's for 11 years and started out as a cashier at the Taziki's Lee Branch location. She is now a Training Specialist and support for online ordering. She does CrossFit at a local gym (CrossFit Gardendale), loves Disney and loves to cook. In February she completed her first half marathon, the Disney Princess Half Marathon. She will be doing the Tough Mudder in Nashville later in the year.

Three Reasons We Don’t Have Fryers

The start of 2018 brought a wave of health goals and high ambitions to achieve a healthy lifestyle. As we get ready to enjoy spending our summer at the pool or at the lakehouse, we are reminded what it takes to be more health-conscience.

At Taziki’s we focus on great food that nourishes the body and sets it up for peak performance because that's how we believe one can #livethegoodlife.

How? No fryers (also no freezers or microwaves). Not only does this allow for us to achieve our standard of providing fresh food but it also provides nutritional benefits.

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Reason #1 - Fryers Often Use Hydrogenated Oils Which Results In High Trans Fat:

The trans fat forms when it undergoes a process called hydrogenation, which occurs when the oils are heated to high temperatures during the cooking process.

It gets worse when the oils are reused, which makes them break down each time, ultimately changing the composition which increases the oil being absorbed into the food. Despite the FDA’s plan to put a ban on trans fat,  this doesn't mean fried foods will become any healthier since the food will still be cooked in unhealthy oils that end up being recycled in the cooking process.

 Instead of using fryers, all of our restaurants use flat top grills. 

Instead of using fryers, all of our restaurants use flat top grills. 

The trans fats end up working against the body in many ways by blocking the production of chemicals that combat inflammation and benefit the hormonal and nervous systems.

Our approach is to focus on details that make a lifelong difference in the lives of ours customers, which is why we cook on flat top grills in every restaurant. We don’t use fryers because we’re committed to FRESH food that is intentionally nourishing.

Reason #2 - Eating Fried Food May Increase Risk For Disease:

In a report on ‘Fried Food Consumption and Cardiovascular Health..”, its stated that eating more fried foods is associated with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Another report on fried-food consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes conducted two large observational studies which found that the more people ate fried foods, the higher the risk there was for developing heart disease. The statistics showed that consuming 4-6 servings of fried food per week were 39% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who were consuming less than one serving per week.

With the increase in calories in fried food, caloric intake can quickly increase as this food is consumed. With a trend in eating more and more fried food, the increase for diabetes rises as well. The higher the intake of all fried foods leads to the higher risk of developing any one of these diseases.

Reason #3 - We Value A Clean Produce-Centered Open Kitchen:

With all of the chemicals that are taken into the body, the ‘normal’ functions suddenly are put on hold to help take care of the digestion process. These negative side effects are the reason we focus everything in our restaurant on the Mediterranean diet. The premise of this diet and lifestyle is to embrace the daily practice of finding a sustainable way of living through food, the mind, and the body.

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Though this philosophy makes our menu complex, we value the challenge that’s created by our passion for variety. At Taziki’s, we are obsess over serving food to our guests that not only satisfies our taste buds, but also provides nutritional value that our bodies can benefit from.

The core of our brand is built around making extraordinary food, serving our communities, and creating relationships. We know food is a medium to do that which is why we open our doors at Taziki’s every day. If you have a great healthy food story, please Tweet us @tazikis.

Lessons From Lettuce

By Rachel Layton (VP Marketing & Growth):

My latest adventure has been joining the incredible team at Taziki’s. If you don’t have a location near you, there’s a chance you’re on our growth list (hopefully).

As a customer, I had visited these locations many times for their fast service and healthy food items. As a new employee, I began my training at the store level, in the kitchen, with two different teams in Nashville at Taziki’s Green Hills & Taziki’s Gulch. José (local owner pictured below) and his sweet team became my family.

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Let me preface this by saying, I grew up in hospitality. It’s not like I had no knowledge of the inner workings of a restaurant, chefs have been my best friends for over four years now but I hadn’t used my body and hands in hospitality or a restaurant kitchen for a long time (about 6 years).

If you haven’t been in hospitality before, let me take a minute to brag on the people who prepare your food. A restaurant kitchen starts sometimes as early as 4 am, (depending on the restaurant and catering schedule) prepping items for the daily menu. Many different positions must show up in order to make this run smoothly and any one of them can cause a glitch by under performing. It’s intense, it’s physical, and an environment full of pressure but the creativity is normally oozing out of there because innovation comes from improvising. A bustling kitchen is always the perfect place for problem-solving. To put it plainly, the level of teamwork required is unmatched in any other industry/environment besides the military. Needless to say, I was hooked on the movement and thrill long ago.

As I walked into this kitchen which ran as a well-oiled machine, I felt intimidated — mostly because the thought of being in the way or not useful completely shattered my psyche. I know just enough to know that being in the way is the same as messing up a recipe. It’s not good. Anyway, I digress.

The first step is prep. Seems simple but it’s actually very intricate. One of the main menu fixtures on the Taziki’s menu are these beautiful, fresh salads. I got assigned to prepping the lettuce that makes up these bountiful wonders and I learned a few things about life in the process.

Chef Cesar, my trainer for the day walked me through the process from full vegetable to sliced salad, and there were many steps. After the lettuce is cut to perfection (intentionally sized so it’s easier to eat), it’s put into a produce wash bath where it soaks. While it sat in the bath, Cesar was careful as he explained to me how to properly treat lettuce — and there is etiquette for this type of thing.

  • Be graceful: Lettuce, though sturdy and versatile, is also fragile and delicate so it’s not meant to be shoved down into the water. Too much force will brown the beautiful lettuce and it won’t be fit to serve.

  • Have a system: Post-bath, all the lettuce is spun (in a 50 gallon salad spinner with a crank) to remove the water. Always remove the lettuce from the same corner of the bath container every time, so you can ensure you’ve got plenty of water for every handful to remove dirt as it spins. Too little water will keep the lettuce from getting totally clean.

  • Don’t rush: Spinning the lettuce happens in two steps for a reason. The first set of spins removes the excess water normally containing little dirt particles from nature. You take the lid off the spinner, remove the salad strainer and dump the tub of water. Then, you put the salad strainer back in and spin again. The second time is to ensure the salad is totally dry before it hits the line (and your salad plate). Too much excess water will cause the salad to wilt into a tasteless, soggy mess. SAD!

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Here’s me and my friend, Chef Cesar on my last day of training in his store. I found the lessons he taught me about lettuce to be a good reminder in general for life and leadership.

Grace is a powerful tool. It makes an impact — whether you’re displaying simple elegance while handling lettuce, or honoring a person for their talents and heart though they’ve made a big (or little) mistake. It’s great for perspective and good leaders always search for context.

Systems are the reason we achieve success. Though they normally seem mundane, they protect us from mistakes when we’re being too casual and susceptible to distraction. People achieve excellence when it comes from strong, relevant systems — never winging it.

Being present and in the moment takes a level of consciousness that breeds intention. Being rushed doesn’t honor time for what it really is — defined, it’s continued progress of existence (past, present, and future) regarded as a whole. Leaders establish cadence and set the pace for those looking to them for a help. Intentional, conscious leaders build teams that achieve wins together and enjoy their journey together.

I’m grateful for food and how it nourishes bodies, along with minds. Today, I’m especially thankful for lessons from lettuce. Thanks for reading.

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I appreciate you.

How Moving To A New City Opened My Eyes To New Things

  By: Andrew Chirico

It was a warm September afternoon in Chestertown, Maryland.

I was walking back to my room after class when I received an email from Anna Duffy, asking if I was interested in interviewing for a position as Taziki’s Digital Marketing Strategist. To be completely honest, being a New Jersey native, I wasn’t familiar with the brand or the food.

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My First Taziki's Experience

I'll always remember the first time I was able to take my family to Taziki's. It was all of our first time's which made it a very special afternoon. 

After doing my research, I immediately found the food and mission compelling.

Long story short, after a couple of interviews, I was offered the position with the option to move to the greater Nashville area. Before I tell you why I chose to take the job, let me give you a quick background story.

I became a creature of habit and routine for the past six years, which comes with both positive and negative effects. The positive was, I did well at school but the negative was, I stayed in the zone of contentment.

Taziki’s was an opportunity not only to build a digital department but also to break out of my comfort zone and try something new. It took a lot of hard thinking, discussions with family, pros and cons lists, etc. but ultimately, I realized this was my chance to grow.

I pulled the trigger and accepted in early November and have enjoyed every single moment. Yes, of course, I miss home, family, friends, my mom’s cooking (especially that chicken parm), but I’m doing what’s right for me with an amazing team at Taziki’s.

To be transparent with you all, there are times when I do think about if this was the right decision and I end up getting those thoughts quickly knocked down by my parents over Facetime. (Man, that app has been used a lot these last four months.)

These past five months have opened up a new world to me. I’m getting the opportunity to travel and see new places, eat different food, make new friends from work and my town, try new things (like running a marathon in Carmel, Indiana). The list goes on and on. If two years ago you told me I would be on a plane flying to WVU for work, I would have laughed at you and said, “no way.”

Moving to a new city can seem daunting, and it should. What I’ve recognized is that if you do something new with an open mind and with the right support from family, friends, co-workers, you will succeed.

This year I’ve been able to redefine what success looks like for me. Before it was staying within the guardrails of life, and now the growth that has come with saying, “yes” is making me the most successful version of myself. The next time someone asks you to do something, I challenge you to lean into a yes instead of a no. You might just find yourself in a new city, trying new things, and working for a company that you love.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to hear your story of when you tried something new. Connect with me on LinkedIn @AndrewChirico!

About Andrew: Andrew Chirico is a New Jersey native and recent graduate from Washington College where he studied Business and Marketing. He recently moved to the greater Nashville area to take on the role as the Corporate Digital Strategist. Andrew takes on all digital, social, and email marketing projects. 

 

 

Why I Love My Mom

By Keith Richards: 

This past week in honor of Mother’s Day, we have asked you what you love about your mom. As I reflect on my mom and her passing 6 years ago, I am reminded of what I loved about her. Wow, you name it! I loved it about her! My mom’s kindness was probably the biggest thing as well as her dedication to the Lord and my dad.

It was always J.O.Y. Jesus, Others, and then Yourself. She lived that out in her life and taught us how to do the same. My mom probably had one of the biggest hearts - and I’m not just saying that because I am her son - but she really did care for everybody. Growing up, I remember her always getting us ready for church on Sunday, and being a part of everything. Our home was like the Kool-Aid House where everyone came to play. If someone got hurt when we were playing, Mom was always there. They even called her “mom,” too! After we opened Taziki’s, Mom was still there. She cleaned tables before we opened and greeted guests.

   A life-changing memory of my mom was when I started working at Bottega in Birmingham and it just didn’t feel right. I didn't use the company culture and customers, and I decided I was going to quit. So I went out the back door. Before making this big decision, I called my mom and told her what I wanted to do. She said, “Son, you need to go back in there. You told the man you were going to work. You’ve never quit anything in your life so you need to take the opportunity he has given you and go back up there and work!”

She always based her decisions off of what God would want you to do. So I went back in and worked. If I hadn’t, I never would have found my love for people and cooking and ultimately opening Taziki’s.

After we decided to open Taziki’s, my mom’s advice was still a huge influence in my life. She told me, “Take care of Amy and work hard. The people will come and God will provide.” She was a constant encouragement and always reminded me of Joshua 1:9 which says:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

My mom was always a huge supporter of Taziki’s. Being a good cook, it was definitely a compliment. Looking back, some of my mom’s favorite dishes include the Greek Salad with grilled chicken, Salmon Feast with rice, Roll-ups with fruit and not chips, and she loved the Shrimp. I am forever grateful for the influence she was and continues to be in my life and Taziki’s.