KATY (Covering Katy News)—For a small, local restaurant to succeed, word-of-mouth endorsements are crucial. But when Yelp, a crowd-sourced review website, touts that restaurant as one of the top 100 places to eat in the U.S. for 2019, the word of mouth endorsements pick up rapidly.

Pappa Gyros, 23255 Kingsland Blvd., is listed as number 12 on the Yelp Top 100 Places to Eat. It is located at southeast corner of the Grand Parkway intersection.

Papa Gyros is in the same building as the Shell gas station and convenience store. Several restaurants, including A&W, have used that space since the service station opened in 1994, owner Chris Batsios said.

Batsios grew up in Flint, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. He had a long-standing passion for cooking, particularly Italian pastas, veal, chicken and rich, savory sauces. While living in Detroit he worked at Italian restaurants and learned the ways of the restaurant business.

Batsios moved to Texas nine years ago and went to work as a meat cutter with HEB. He worked his way up in that company and inspected produce, but admitted that he wanted to get into the restaurant business.

Eventually, Batsios and his father, George, opened their first restaurant, Sapore Ristorante, at 6734 Westheimer Lakes N. Dr., near Fulshear. The restaurant features Italian fare.

Pappa Gyros, which features Greek fare, is the second restaurant that Batsios and his father own. They opened 18 months ago. Chris Batsios manages both restaurants, but has persuaded his now-retired father to help out.

Batsios said the gyro sandwich is the top-selling item on the menu.

“We use a special blend of spices and a special blend of meat that’s proprietarily ours,” he said, adding that sauces used for the gyros are traditional and that many of the recipes used are family recipes.

Mousaka, which is a dish that features layers of eggplant, Greek-spiced beef and potato topped with a béchamel sauce, is another Greek dish offered, along with a Greek macaroni, or lasagna, with ground beef and topped with a béchamel sauce.

The restaurant also carries American fare, including hamburgers, Frito pie, chicken tender baskets, and shrimp baskets. Chicago-style dishes such as Italian beef and Italian sausage are also on the menu.

“We’re one of the very few restaurants that’s serving truly Italian beef,” Batsios said, adding that it was brought in from Chicago.

Batsios said the restaurant enjoys a loyal clientele. He said some guests visit between two to four times per week.

“Hospitality is key,” Batsios said. “Good food and great service.”

One guest, Bill Thomas, is a business development manager with DownUnder GeoSolutions in Houston. He was there with his colleague Brian Williams, a senior geophysicist, for lunch Wednesday.

“It’s a great story,” Thomas said.

The article lists Pappa Gyros as twelfth overall, third in Texas, and first in the Greater Houston area. Batsios credited his wife, Cassie, for her work on social media to promote the restaurant.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Batsios said. “I’m very humbled by that because I come here every day, early in the morning, and my number one goal is to feed people and make them happy. We have a great staff here. Everybody works hard every day. We don’t have a big staff, not a lot of turnover. Customers get to know them by name, and that’s just part of the deal.”

The two Texas restaurants listed ahead of Pappa Gyros are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. One is Tender Smokehouse in Celina, north of Dallas. The other is Tommy Tamale Market & Café in Grapevine, between Dallas and Fort Worth.

For more information about Pappa Gyros and Sapore Ristorante, visit their websites.

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