Cram down some ‘craveable Mediterranean’ from new Guelph eatery
They say timing is everything, but they also say that a little laughter can go a long way.
And so it is at YIAYIA in Guelph, a new food spot that is serving up “craveable Mediterranean” eats.
YIAYIA used to have a home, as a ghost kitchen, on the north side of town. Recently, they opened their doors at a brand-spanking-new place — a place of their own — in a more central location, on Stone Road.
Dinosha Dhavaloganathan, one of the owners, chuckles a bit at the timing of it all. They signed their lease for the new digs in February of 2020.
“And then literally the month after, all restaurants got closed down,” she said with a laugh.
Two-plus years later, things are humming for Dhavaloganathan and her team at the new foodery, which opened its doors in July of this year.
“It was great to know that people still remembered our food, were still around and still liked it. It was really reassuring,” said Dhavaloganathan.
“Getting new customers now that we’re centrally located and everyone in this plaza is really awesome too. And having that foot traffic that we didn’t have before has been really amazing so far.”
They’ve also been getting plenty of visits and orders from students who attend the nearby University of Guelph, she says.
When it was run as a ghost kitchen, the eatery was at the former Adonia Casual Greek Family Dining restaurant building. That spot, which eventually got the wrecking ball, was on Woolwich Street in the north end of town.
YIAYIA on Stone is owned by Dhavaloganathan, her brother Thusenth and sister-in-law Amina Gilani, and also part of the team is Dinosha’s cousin, Thinesh Maruthaiyinar.
They do takeout and delivery, and are big on things like bowls and wraps, says Dhavaloganathan.
The most popular item at the spot is the OG, which, of course, stands for Original Greek. The bowl features chicken, rice, Greek dressing, tomato, cucumber, olives, onions, peppers, tzatziki and feta
Other items to enjoy on the menu include the falafel ta-bowl-eh, beef gyros souva, Greek fries, the YIAYIA supreme, baklava and much more.
Dhavaloganathan’s Royal City resto family story doesn’t start at YIAYIA. Her dad is owner of Creekside Kitchen in town and her great-uncle, Maruthaiyinar’s father, was owner of the aforementioned Adonia, before Maruthaiyinar took over when his dad retired.
Dhavaloganathan admits that a couple of years ago, when the pandemic started, she wasn’t sure how things would wind up, but having a small space, and focusing on takeout and delivery, looked to be good ingredients for success.
“I didn’t know if restaurants as we knew them would still be around,” she says.
“We were pretty confident going into the pandemic that our model would be a good model. Then, through the pandemic we realized it (might be) one of the only types of restaurants that would actually make it.”
YIAYIA is at 304 Stone Rd. W., across from Stone Road Mall and near DQ and Tim Hortons. Visit www.yiayia.ca.
BTW: WHAT IS YIAYIA?
The term means “grandma” in Greek, said Dhavaloganathan, back when they were a ghost kitchen on Woolwich.
“We found this definition for Yiayia on Urban Dictionary that perfectly reflected the values imparted on us through our upbringing and experience in the restaurant industry. Respect for — and the love of — food is one of the cornerstones of our family, so once we had this definition, we ran with it.”
The Urban Dictionary definition they read said: “A person with old-school values that is hard core about respect and doing things the way they have always been done, especially with food, like a Greek grandmother.”