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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Greek restaurant makes natural change

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When patrons of the Fat Greek restaurant bite into their falafel pita, they may not know that the tomato inside was grown and farmed in the owner’s garden.

The Fat Greek, located on University Boulevard, is a restaurant frequented by many UA students and community members. The owners of the restaurant, George and Traci Markou, use vegetables from their own garden in the Fat Greek’s food. The Markous grow and farm all of these vegetables at the Markou Ranch, located in the Arizona Sonoran Desert. The vegetables they grow include tomatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, dill and cucumbers, and they use all of these in their restaurants.

They also have animals on the ranch, including chickens, cows, goats, roosters and sheep, which are used for meat, milk and eggs.

“We originally bought this land because we were going to open another store. After we bought the land, the economy went down, and we weren’t able to get a loan to start building,” George Markou said. The Markous have since decided to use this land to start a test garden.

The idea to start the ranch came from Traci Markou, who watched her grandparents garden when she was growing up and always wanted to start her own garden. Her neighbors helped her get started by teaching her family farming techniques and selling them animals from their farms.

The test garden proved to be very successful and the Markous decided to expand.

“We tripled the size of the rows in the garden to be more productive and have just added a greenhouse,” said Traci Markou.

The Markous have also found other ways to make the garden useful and save money.

“Nothing goes to waste,” George Markou added. “We never have to buy wood because we have wood everywhere on the ranch. We have even traded wood for chickens. And we feed any weeds or left over vegetables to the animals.”

They also sell eggs that are laid by their chickens.

“You can really taste and see a difference between these eggs and the eggs that you buy in a store. They are not as natural in the store,” George Markou added.

Previously, most of these ingredients were taken to the Markous’ other store on North Swan Road, called Greek Taverna, but they are now going to focus on the university location this spring.

“As soon as the produce comes in, we will test all produce at university,” Traci Markou said.

Mickey Randleman, a cashier at the Fat Greek on University Boulevard, said she is very excited that the restaurant will be able to offer more ingredients from the Markou Ranch.

“In the spring, a much greater variety and quantity of our produce will come directly from the Markou Ranch, and we’re excited to be able to offer that kind of fresh food to our customers,” Randleman said. “It’s a point of pride for this family-owned restaurant to be supported by, and supporting local agriculture.”

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