The restaurant business is a hard one to be successful in, let alone have a long run as a favorite of loyal customers. But for Clemmons Kitchen, in business since 1977, customers continue to come from far and wide for good, home-style cooking, including breakfast any time of the day, delicious menu items like spaghetti, and some of the best homemade desserts around…plus some pretty awesome iced tea!
When Gus Tsatsaronis, Johnny Ballas and Gus Strates opened the restaurant in 1977 on Clemmons Road, there wasn’t much of anything else in Clemmons, NC. Not the hustle and bustle we have now, just a rural area in need of a restaurant, and Clemmons Kitchen became a favorite quickly. In fact, the only places to eat in Clemmons in those days were McDonald’s and Clemmons Kitchen. The population in Clemmons in the late ’70s was around 3,000, and today that number is nearly 20,000!
An American Dream
At the age of 17, Gus Tsatsaronis, current co-owner, came to the United States from his homeland of Greece with his two friends Johnny Ballas and Gus Strates, and got his “first taste” of the restaurant business working for the Grecian Corner in Winston-Salem for three years, later opening Clemmons Kitchen at the age of 20 with his two friends. After growing up at Clemmons Kitchen, Bobby is now the co-owner with his dad and, like his dad, definitely has a love of owning a restaurant.
Gus’ love for what he does is simple. “I have always enjoyed cooking even on my days off at my home, trying out new things, which has helped my dishes at Clemmons Kitchen. It makes my day when customers say they enjoy my recipes. I would have to say the smiles and compliments I’ve been getting every day for all these years has made me love my job even more, and before I realized it, I’d been here 41 years. It’s a great feeling,” Gus commented. Several of Clemmons Kitchen’s most popular menu items are family recipes, and desserts are homemade either on-site or at the home of a baker. The old-fashioned coconut cake has always been a customer favorite.
“My dad wanted me to go to college and told me that the restaurant business is a lot of hours, a lot of stress, but I didn’t want to do anything else. I’ve learned so much from my dad since I was raised in the business and our employees are like my family. I’ve worked with my dad and made our father-son relationship even stronger, spending all those hours together, and I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” admitted Bobby. The “Clemmons Kitchen family” includes 50 plus employees, some who have been with the restaurant for over 40 years, like hostess Peggy James, and several cooks who have been there for over 25 years!
Loyal Customers Make All the Difference
There aren’t many restaurants that you can eat at 2-3 times a week and always get something different, but Clemmons Kitchen’s menu has a variety of items from “breakfast all day,” to pasta dishes, to sandwiches and vegetables. “Our best sellers would probably be the squash; breakfast is always popular no matter the time of day. Our 12-oz. pork chops and pasta dishes are favorites, too,” Bobby confirmed. Beyond the menu items, the friendly staff draws customers back again and again.
The importance of loyal employees and customers doesn’t go unnoticed by Gus and Bobby. “I want to thank our great customers for their continued support and our employees, past and present, who have helped make Clemmons Kitchen what it is today. We wouldn’t be here without them!” declared Gus.
Clemmons Kitchen is located at 3609 Clemmons Road in Clemmons, NC. Hours of operation: Sunday, 7 am–2 pm; Monday–Saturday, 6 am–9 pm. For more information, call 336-766-4671 or visit www.clemmonskitchen.com.