RIVERVIEW - Last year George Kontakos and his family celebrated their 20th anniversary as owners of Peck's Flame Broiled Chicken & Catering Co., serving families in Brandon and Riverview. Last month they made their first venture into South Shore by opening a new location, at 10685 Big Bend Road, where Five Guys Burger & Fries used to be.
"We've started off very well," said George Kontakos. "We're very pleased with the response we've had so far, and we want everyone in the area to know we're here.
"When saw the growth in the area and when we learned Five Guys was going to close, we decided to come here."
Area residents are glad they did.
"The food - all of it - is very tasty," said Brian Squitieri of Gibsonton, who has dined at Peck's at 8203 U.S. 301 in Riverview. "This location is more convenient; much closer to where we live."
"I could walk here," said Mary Zwock of Riverview. "I learned about Peck's when a friend of mine used the restaurant to cater a 70th birthday party. The food was off the hook, and I've been a customer ever since."
Originally from Sparta, Greece, Kontakos came to the United States in 1969 and began working in Greek-owned restaurants in New York. He came to Florida in 1980 and opened an all-you-can-eat restaurant in South Tampa. He sold it a year later and bought a former Whataburger in Ruskin that's known today as Granny's Restaurant. He later owned another eatery in town across from the old Coffee Cup Restaurant called George's Family Restaurant.
In 1988 Kontakos met the owner of a YAYA's Flame Broiled Chicken Restaurant in Pinellas County and became intrigued with the concept of serving tasty, yet healthy food. He worked with the man for several years and began developing his own marinade of 22 herbs and spices, which he tested on family and friends before deciding to branch out on his own.
"I learned that broiling is so much healthier than frying or even baking," Kontakos said. "All the fat drips below the grill. It's hard to eat healthy without sacrificing flavor."
By 1992, Kontakos and some investors had opened the first Peck's at Lumsden and Providence roads in Brandon. That location was sold several years later and Kontakos opened another one at Bloomingdale Avenue and John Moore Road. In 2006, he sold that location and moved his business to Riverview, just north of the Alafia River. His son John operates the Riverview restuarant. He and his son James will run the Big Bend Road location.
In addition to its uniquely flavored flame-broiled chicken that's marinated 24 to 72 hours, Peck's offers gyros; dry-rubbed, fall-off-the-bone ribs; Greek salads; spinach pies and a large assortment of sides. Customers can dine in, take out or order catering. Business hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"We enjoy what we do and building relationships with our customers," James Kontakos said. "We know the 'usual' order of 60 to 70 percent of our customers. We believe in the personal touch."
"Customers are family to us," his father added. "Wherever I've been, I've knocked down walls so they could see us working. Customers make me happy. They motivate me."
For additional information, call (813) 671-9719.