Yiakras first opened Manny’s in 2004. Over time, he said he has had to overcome multiple challenges to keep his restaurant open—including road construction and increasing costs—but has remained committed to using quality ingredients and following recipes passed down to him from his grandmother.
Yiakras said the quality of ingredients and attention to detail are two of the most crucial needs in his kitchen. Precision is required when preparing the tzatziki sauce—a process done by hand that involves dehydrating the cucumbers in a way that keeps them from being too watery while also preserving the flavor—as well as when grilling the pita bread to perfection and carving the gyro meat.
“A lot of people overcook the gyro, and it becomes too dry, and it starts to taste like jerky or bacon,” he said. “The gyro has to have juice inside. It has to have a little tenderness.”
Yiakras said he also strives for freshness, preparing new batches of ingredients throughout the day. When certain items are sold out, such as the spanakopita—a savory pie make with flaky phyllo dough, spinach and feta cheese—they are done for the day, although Yiakras said some customers are willing to wait up to 25 minutes for a new one to be made fresh.
“The reason I stay in business is because I micromanage everything,” he said. “These are simple ingredients, but you have to do them right and put them all together in the right way.”
Gyros are the top seller at Manny’s, but the eatery also offers Greek burgers, pasta dishes and other Greek staples such as hummus, dolmades and spanakopita. While many items are prepared in traditional Greek style, others are made with a twist, Yiakras said, including the Italy-inspired pasta Alfredo and Manny’s Fire Fries, which are served with a mix of hot sauce and tzatziki.
Yiakras, a natural extrovert, said many of his customers have opened up to him and come to him for advice in the past. For those he has helped, many often come back and end up helping him later on. He said he also likes to get involved with the broader Cy-Fair community, including donating food to local schools for various events.
“It’s all a part of my philosophy,” he said. “If all of us do something for the community, we’re going to have a stronger community.”
Manny's Greek Cafe
8475 Hwy. 6 N., Ste. E, Houston