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Focus on Flavor: Athenian Grill

Coming from Lamia, Greece, a city in the heart of the country, Ilias Pappas has worked very hard to be where he is today. Ilias moved to the United States in 1998 in order to attend college and has since graduated from the University of Kentucky where he majored in hospitality management. Inspired by his Greek upbringing and having grown up experiencing the culinary skills of his mother and grandmother, Ilias has always had a passion for cuisine.

Five years ago, he began to turn his passion for food into a living when he opened his Athenian Grill food truck. He sold authentic Greek food to Lexingtonians at many popular events, including Thursday Night Live. Today, there are two Athenian Grill store locations as well as three stop-and-shop locations in Krogers across Lexington. Needless to say, Athenian Grill has been a huge success.

However, just as with any entrepreneur, there are always struggles to achieving a dream. Ilias states that there were undoubtedly many obstacles to opening the store locations of Athenian Grill. Namely, there were business and financial obstacles that he was forced to face. Nevertheless, the Grill’s success today is overwhelming and definitely outweighs the obstacles Ilias had to face in order to get where he is today.

When speaking of the cultural importance of food, Ilias believes that there is no better way to begin to explain to a stranger who you are and where you come from. “Food is an acceptable means of explaining to someone who you are,” he explains. Greece is very well-known for its food and rich culture, which is why Ilias is so passionate about introducing his roots to Lexington. He is also very excited to be able to participate in KRM’s upcoming fundraising event, Passport to Flavor. He considers Passport to Flavor to be an amazing event and one that our community needs. It is a way to bring people together and to effectively showcase different cultures and foods.

Athenian Grill will be paired with our Kurdish Syrian home cook to produce some delicious dishes to be enjoyed by guests at the Passport to Flavor fundraiser on June 23.

We invite you to join us for KRM Lexington’s annual fundraiser, Passport to Flavor, on Friday June 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Distillery Square. The event will allow you to experience the feel of an international night market featuring international sounds, sights, and tastes. We will have booths featuring food from Bosnia, the Congo, Cuba, Syria, and international desserts. Other activities include live music, a silent auction, art display, craft and KRM T-shirt sales, photo booth, and henna. Reserve your tickets today!