2022 was a banner year for the emerging fast casual Apóla Greek Grill, as it celebrated its fifth anniversary by doubling in size with two new locations along with delicious new menu items, all while showing support for the community. Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, Apóla’s goal is to become the go-to restaurant for Greek cuisine across more of California while continuing its commitment to treating its customers like family.
“We can’t say enough about the work our team did across the board in 2022,” says Apóla Cofounder Yianni Kosmides. “From celebrating five fabulous years, to opening two restaurants and gaining more traction across Southern California, we could not have imagined this past year being any more successful, especially being so closely removed from a global struggle.”
While many small brands fought to survive after the plethora of issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, Apóla still thrived in a big way. The brand set its sights on expansion and ended the fourth quarter of 2022 with a bang, opening its first franchise-owned restaurant—a food court anchor inside the Galleria at Tyler shopping center in Riverside—and launched a partnership with Cloud Kitchens to open a location within its ghost kitchen in Anaheim.
The brand’s expansion was the perfect gift for its fans, helping celebrate Apóla’s fifth anniversary of its original Irvine location on September 1, National Gyro Day. The event saw thousands of customers join in on the fun and festivities with giveaways for prizes, Apóla-branded gear, gift cards, and $5 gyros.
Apóla’s fifth anniversary also served as the inspiration for its holiday giveback campaign, with the brand donating 5 percent of all proceeds from the sales of Apóla Pita Sandwiches, Plates, and Bowls to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County through January 5 to raise money for the nonprofit. Apóla also gifted each of its employees five paid hours to volunteer at Second Harvest’s food bank or farm.
“We’re growing and wanted to celebrate that success with the community and employees,” says Cofounder Stefano Kosmides. “We started Apóla as a small, family business and built a loyal following with our fans because of that atmosphere. As we continue to expand, we don’t want to lose that connection with our customers or communities.”
That connection also included the addition of new meatless options for its vegetarian and vegan customers as well as a decadent baklava cheesecake for those with a sweet tooth. The updated menu, coupled with the new locations helped Apóla increase its overall sales in 2022 and drew the interest of local restaurateur Caroline Daniel as its newest franchise partner.
Daniel is now monitoring construction of Apóla’s fifth SoCal location with plans to open in the first half of 2023 in Valencia. Apóla has its sights set on opening an additional two restaurants in the state and will also be redesigning the interior of its new locations to lower build-out costs and shorten construction time. With three new restaurants operating by early 2024, Apóla would have seven locations system-wide.
Apóla Greek Grill has been featured locally in The Los Angeles Herald and California Telegraph, and on the lifestyle TV show “This is LA.”