The fast-casual restaurant lets customers pick between a pita or a bowl. | Courtesy of The Simple Greek

This story has been updated. Following the story’s publication, the franchisees informed Insider that the restaurant won’t open on Oct. 1 as they previously stated, though it is still expected to open in early October.

A new-to-market Mediterranean restaurant, The Simple Greek, is aiming to open in early October next to Norton Audubon Hospital.

The eatery, located at 3029 Poplar Level Road, is a franchised location owned by Joe Brooks and daughter-in-law Jaime Brooks, both of whom have worked in the fast-food restaurant industry for years.

“I always wanted to start signing the front of the check rather than the back of the check,” said Joe Brooks, who had worked for Hardee’s and Papa John’s for decades. Also, “I wanted to have an opportunity for Jaime to get into an ownership-type position, given her experience” at McDonald’s.

He said the pair were attracted to The Simple Greek because it was different and more health-conscious than burgers and pizza.

“We really weren’t interested in doing anything that others were doing,” Brooks said.

The Simple Greek is opening at 3029 Poplar Level Road. | Courtesy of The Simple Greek

Working with a small franchise also give them some leeway to do a few things their own way, he added.

The Simple Greek has about 30 locations the United States in operation or set to open, according to its website.

“When you’re working for a large corporation, or even a large franchisee, you have some control, but you don’t really have a say or the leadership capabilities,” Brooks said, noting that as former employees at franchised restaurant chains, they have a good perspective on how to make improvements in operations and for employees. “What trials and tribulations do they go through that we can do better.”

In addition to reorganizing the food preparation line to hopefully streamline it, he said, The Simple Greek on Poplar Level Road will pay its employees weekly. Brooks acknowledged that some restaurant workers live paycheck to paycheck, so paying them more frequently could help.

They also hope to attract and retain quality employees by offering a starting hourly wage of $10 an hour, $2.75 above minimum wage. “We want the best folks available,” Brooks said. “I don’t feel comfortable that we could get people in the door for $7.25 an hour.”

The Simple Greek is currently hiring and looking to staff 30 to 35 people, including managers.

Each day, employees will freshly prepare ingredients for The Simple Greek’s menu, which allows customers to choose between a pita or a bowl, pick a protein, add toppings like feta cheese and cucumbers and finish with a sauce, oil or spices. The bowls come with a base of rice, salad or lentils, and the proteins are Greek gyro, chicken gyro, grilled chicken or grilled steak.

Bowls come with a rice, salad or lentil base. | Courtesy of The Simple Greek

“I think that is key — that they get to make their own meal,” said Jaime Brooks.

Sides include hummus, lentil soup, spanakopita (spinach pie) and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). Pitas are $6.99, while bowls are $7.99, and most of the sides cost $2.99.

Joe Brooks noted that they are looking to locally source its produce. “Everything we do is fresh,” he said.

The restaurant will only seat 41, but he said many of The Simple Greek’s customers order their food to go, rather than dining in. The eatery has online ordering, and the owners are working on a possible partnership with DoorDash for delivery.

The Poplar Level Road location is only the second in the state. There is a single The Simple Greek in Lexington.

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Caitlin Bowling
Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]