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What’s the West 8th Street stop for all kinds of health-conscious New Yorkers, seeking made-to-order Mediterranean fare in a family-run business? For nearly forty years, since the spring of 1978, it’s been Eva’s Kitchen, our January Business of the Month.
Owner Dimitrios Kapelonis explained how his grandmother, the namesake of Eva’s, and her three sons opened up at this Greenwich Village location, in a building constructed in 1921. Why there? “8th Street was live back then, we were open to 4am, it was the spot to buy shoes, for style, clothes” and it still has a special feel for a lot of that stretch. His family hails from the Greek island of Crete, and they started to serve healthy fare heavily influenced by their land, long before ‘the Mediterranean diet’ became synonymous with healthy living. For a long time they were the only healthy location around. “Health food before health food was out” Dimitrios explained. Their menu has expanded to reflect a variety of flavors and tastes.
Eva’s Supplements, a thriving supplement and nutrition section to the rear of the establishment, was previously where they sold crunchy bulk food, oats and organic and jasmin rice and peanut butter you could make yourself. As more grocery stores like Whole Foods opened which carried such items, they adapted and changed their focus. Today Eva’s is a one-stop shop for healthy meals, nutritional supplements and vitamins to stay healthy. And Dimitrios has expanded that aspect of the business to locations in Staten Island and Queens.
Leonardo Dicaprio, Isabella Rossellini, and Bustah Rhymes have been all visited, and the wall of fame proudly displays signed photos from the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Daryl McDaniels of RUN DMC, and more. But you do not have to be a pro athlete or a movie star to frequent Eva’s and its rather spacious seating area. The bulk of their customers are locals and students who appreciate the affordable, healthy and wide selection of good tasty food.
Two of the more popular items are their “Lazy Hustler Burrito,” a whole wheat wrap stuffed with home-made hummus or baba ghanoush, romaine, cucumber, tomato, brown rice, falafel chili beans & tahini, and “Bob’s Plate,” grilled chicken & lentil soup over brown rice. The latter is named after a famous personal trainer who is now based in California. They hope he and other notables will visit the store again this year to celebrate their amazing four decades in business.
In addition to those dishes, their copious menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike includes spinach pie, chicken, shakes, soups and salads. There’s plenty of space to sit and free magazines and the daily newspaper available for sharing like a real neighborhood place. Dimitios admits it is harder for a small business these days, with Amazon and national fast-food chains with which to compete; even 8th street now has the likes of Subway, Dominos, Dunkin Donuts and Chipotle. This makes Eva’s staying power all the more astounding, and deserving of support.
Dimitrios attributes their success to their loyal customers, his strong family work ethic, and the fact that they are “originals — you cant use that word much these days” he poignantly said. But Eva’s certainly fits that bill of being a Greenwich Village original. And they try to make living healthy a pleasure, not a chore. “To eat healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat food that tastes like burnt tires,” Dimitrios says.
Everything on their menu is delicious, and you can see from their presence on social media that customers often thank them for contributing or supporting local causes. If that was not incentive enough, thanks to our friends at Village Alliance they are part of the January “Village Vitality” promotion. Purchase any one plate or sandwich and receive a second for 50% off! Just quote “Village Vitality’ at the time of purchase. And while you’re at it, congratulate them for being our January Business of the Month.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: