Greeking Out at Providence’s Newest Hot Spot
Get a taste for the ancient past at Yoleni’s newly opened U.S. flagship location.
We talked to Alexandra Georgiou, wife and co-owner of Yoleni’s only United States location at 292 Westminster Street in Providence, on why she and her husband chose to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to little Rhody. The menu? Meals made for the Gods. (Don’t believe us? See photos below!).
What was the inspiration behind Yoleni’s?
Yoleni’s first began as a small, specialty Greek producer with online sales. The first actual brick and mortar location opened in Athens, Greece, where my husband, his brother and our nephews worked within the business. For the most part, his family has majority of the business over there even still. My husband and I looked into it as investors and decided to concentrate on the United States market by opening an experience store. The first physical store in the United States was launched right here in downtown Providence in May, and it follows our original Yoleni’s store model in downtown Athens!
Why Rhode Island?
I am originally from Rhode Island and was born and raised in Newport. Up until recently, my husband and I lived between Greece, Dubai and New Mexico where we ran a tech company. One day my husband said, “You know your dad is getting older in age, why don’t we open the first Yoleni’s store in Rhode Island and have Providence as the base?” I thought that it was a great idea, and so here we are. We run the actual store and our sons are involved too. Downstairs we also have a distribution system, where on any given day, we are shipping packages out all over the United States. We love that these products are spreading far and wide, especially seeing as they are going out of Rhode Island.
What types of products can you find in the market?
We offer a many brands of really great tasting honey, many different kinds of herbs, nuts and dried fruit – which we can’t keep on the shelf long enough because people love them so much – and so much more. Most everything is shipped to us; however, the nuts and dried fruit are brought in via a plane. They are all dry roasted and are not treated with preservatives or fried in oil, and they simply have an all-natural, robust flavor. Everything comes from small producers, so we control the quality of what is offered in the market. It’s all just the best of the best.
Do you serve a full menu?
During the day we operate on counter service. Guests can order whatever they would like from the lunch menu and are paged to the counter when their meal is ready. However, during the evenings we offer sit down dinners like any restaurant would and we even take reservations. The menus will change every few months to offer new and exciting dishes and some seasonal selections, too, but it will always list authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
What kind of dishes can be found on the menu?
We offer a rotating daily special called ‘What’s Cooking?’ that features fresh veggies from local farms on Aquidneck Island. Our pita bread which is made daily, is thin and not oily. Homemade authentic Greek yogurt in several different flavors, pastries and coffee are available. We also serve sandwiches on homemade bread using Mediterranean products. Breakfast including many egg-based dishes from a benedict with greens, to the Greekamole which is our version of avocado is listed on the menu. Guests can sip on signature fresh juices, some made with turmeric and ginger which are very healthy and delicious, wine or Greek artisan sodas. If it is not Greek artisan, it is local, such as Yacht Club Soda. Here at Yoleni’s we are all about supporting other local businesses.
Are there dishes that are more popular than others?
I would say the most popular dish ordered during the day is our signature pita and Greek yogurt, but the Greek meatballs and oven baked lamb with roasted potatoes is up there as well. We offer quite a selection of fun and tasty dishes with a little bit of something for everyone.
What are some of the healthiest items on your menu? What makes them good for you?
Most everything on our menu can be considered healthy. Some standouts include the baked cod fillet with beet roots and seasonal greens because it is filling but light on your stomach, the baked veggie breakfast and our popular Greekamole. We are hoping that in September we will also be able to offer some vegetarian and vegan options so that we can accommodate all needs.
Besides a meal and purchasing products at the market, what else can guests expect when visiting Yoleni’s?
Wellness is so much a part of what we are here at Yoleni’s. We are all about serving a healthy Mediterranean diet and longevity. That being said, pop up yoga classes will begin in September and cooking classes with Chef George will be offered, too. Attendees will watch demonstrations taste the food and learn how to cook the meal so that they can take it home to their very own kitchen. Plus, we have an olive oil tasting bar. We were the first in Europe to offer it over there and we thought it would translate well at this shop, so we are offering classes where people can learn about the harvest, wellness and good aspects of extra virgin olive oil. It is truly a great space where the community can come together, learn new things and get talking with one another. We love when we see strangers at different tables conversing with one another. yolenis.com