One family-owned restaurant in the Mission Farms neighborhood in Leawood is hoping to be Kansas City's favorite spot for Greek food.
Paros Estiatorio gets its name from the Greek island Paros, which is part of the Cyclades Islands. Klajdi Kreka owns the business, along with his mother, Kozeta Kreka, who is the restaurant’s head chef. The pair say they are big on authenticity and want their customers to get the same dining experience they would in Greece. They pride themselves on their business’s hospitality and want every customer to feel welcome.
“We want them to feel just like a part of our family, as if they are coming into our house when they come into our restaurant,” Klajdi says.
The cuisine is based heavily on fresh, Mediterranean ingredients from the land or sea.Kozeta has had a passion for cooking for more than 20 years. She loves that her career allows her to do what she loves while introducing customers to authentic Greek food.
“I want to represent the Greek cuisine, which is the freshness, the richness in vitamins, the simplicity, the variety of the food,” Kozeta says.
The business imports most of its ingredients from Greece, such as olive oil, cheeses and honey. It also works with small and local farmers around the region. Kozeta works to incorporate family recipes that she’s kept with her over the years while also using modern techniques. Many of her dishes include fresh Mediterranean fish such as sea bass and white snapper. One of her favorites is the Moussakas, which comes from a traditional family recipe with her own spin on it.
“My mom is cooking from her heart and cooking the way she’s done her whole life and then training our sous chef and our kitchen staff to do it the same way, the authentic way,” Klajdi says.
He adds that the business works to set itself apart from others when it comes to the food but also the atmosphere.
“We wanted to be very elegant with a minimalist, Mediterranean style,” Klajdi says.
Klajdi says the restaurant is driven by philoxenia. The Greek word translated means making a stranger a friend. His hope is that the aroma of the hot olive oil, the Greek music and the authentic food will make customers feel as if they are in Greece from the moment they walk in.
The restaurant also has a full scale bar with many wines imported from Greece and a menu of Greek-inspired cocktails, such as the Santorini with Ketel One vodka, orangecello, sparkling rose and lemon.Both Kozeta and Klajdi say they are excited to have their restaurant in the Midwest where Greek cuisine may not be as popular as other parts of the country. Their biggest reward comes when a customer enjoys their meal.
“That is really exciting, having first-time diners come in and be really satisfied and leave with a happy experience,” Klajdi says.
While the last few years have been difficult as a new restaurant, the business has its community to thank for the constant support.
“We feel very thankful and blessed to be in this position that we are in because it shows that our customers have received us well and have supported us through our opening and through the pandemic,” Klajdi says.