Ellie's Kitchen & Catering

Ellie Ashley, a Cyprus native, and her son Rob Gates put an emphasis on customer service.

Ellie Ashley, a Cyprus native, and her son Rob Gates put an emphasis on customer service.

Patrons at Ellie’s Kitchen & Catering are more than customers. When one enters the Friendswood eatery, which is decorated with murals depicting owner Ellie Ashley’s childhood home of Cyprus, he or she is more like a houseguest.

“I’ve always enjoyed people eating [my cooking] and saying, ‘Oh, that’s good,’” Ashley said. “There’s always something satisfying about people eating at your home. Before I opened the restaurant I always invited people to the house.”

That mindset helped create the welcoming atmosphere at her Friendswood Mediterranean restaurant.

“[Ashley is] one of those rare people that genuinely cares about people and feels deeply for the community [and] for the people she loves,” said Rob Gates, Ashley’s son and chef at Ellie’s. “If you look at her, she’s almost like everybody’s mom in the way that she approaches people.”

Ashley grew up in Cyprus, where her father, Christof Tambourides, was chef for the island’s British commissioner. She said she got her love of cooking from him and began cooking in her early teen years for her three younger siblings while their parents were at work. Tambourides also taught Ashley about some key ingredients for any meal.

“We really care, and we want people to know that,” Gates said. “If you don’t, people are going to taste that. My grandfather said that the two greatest ingredients in cooking are patience and love. Nothing tastes as good as it ever will without those two ingredients.”

After marrying, Ashley moved to the U.S. in 1960. She worked in engineering for more than 20 years before pursuing her own restaurant in 2006.

“After my son moved down here I decided that it was a good time for him and I to work together,” Ashley said. “When I retired from Dupont, I just took some of my money and bought my kitchen stuff.”

Two to three years after opening, Ashley said she found herself unable to accommodate all of her customer base. She bought the neighboring space as part of the “Carson Expansion”—named for a young customer who grew upset when the restaurant was full one day.

“He cried because he brought his little sister for me to meet, and there was no place for him to sit,” Ashley said. “So when I went home I told my husband, ‘I’m going to expand.’”

The menu includes traditional Mediterranean food along with some American dishes—such as chicken and dumplings and beef stroganoff—that were added based on Ashley’s experiences of living in New Orleans, Maryland and California. All of her food includes the passion and care that defines the restaurant, she said.

“You just have to really love to cook,” Ashley said. “[One must] do it well and use the right ingredients and try not to cut corners just because you have a restaurant. That’s my mentality."


MOST RECENT

Friendswood City Council on Aug. 2 came to a consensus on a proposed property tax rate of $0.487314 per $100 valuation—which is the current tax rate—for fiscal year 2021-22. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Friendswood property tax rate could remain flat for fiscal year 2021-22

Friendswood City Council on Aug. 2 came to a consensus on a proposed property tax rate of $0.487314 per $100 value—which is the current tax rate—for fiscal year 2021-22.

In July 2021, Montgomery County recorded 367 cases of COVID-19 in children under 12, the second-most in 2021 and over five times higher than the number in June (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County records increase in COVID-19 cases in children under 12

The county saw the second straight week of active cases increasing by over 1,000. COVID-19 hospitalization reached 12.4% of total hospital capacity.

Adults can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Clear Creek ISD's Health & Wellness fair on Aug. 4. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)
Clear Creek ISD to offer adult COVID-19 vaccines at Aug. 5 community event

The district's 2021 Health & Wellness Fair will take place at the Learner Support Center from 4-7 p.m. and include information on local resources.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Texas Medical Center coronavirus updates: Testing positivity rate continues to climb, surpassing 11%

Between July 26 and Aug. 1, an average of 11.5% of patients tested positive for COVID-19.

Pearland City Council typically meets the second and fourth Mondays of the month. (Haley Morrison/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council approves rezonings for three different land parcels in Pearland

Pearland will be getting two new residential developments and an office development in different parts of the city.

Mahesh's Kitchen, an upscale Indian restaurant, is preparing to open in Sugar Land Town Square near the end of August. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Upscale Indian restaurant coming to Sugar Land; Freebirds Tex-Mex to open in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area, including that E-bikes will not be permitted on The Woodlands Township pathways.

Friendswood ISD expects to receive about $2.88 million in ESSER III grant funds. (Courtesy Pexels)
Friendswood ISD to create 13 new student support positions with federal funding

The staff in the new positions will be focused on implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.

student writing on paper
Texas Legislature allows parents to opt for students to repeat grade levels or courses

Senate Bill 1697 is effective for the 2021-22 school year.

From 9 p.m. July 30 until 5 a.m. Aug. 1, traffic going northbound from Franklin St. to Hogan/Crockett St. will be diverted to I-10. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Section of I-45 to be closed this weekend due to bridge maintenance

From 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Sunday, traffic going northbound from Franklin St. to Hogan/Crockett St. will be diverted to I-10.

(Courtesy Main Squeeze Juice)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: Main Squeeze Juice now open and more business, development news

Here is a roundup of business and development news from the Pearland and Friendswood area.

A rendering of the Wyld Chld nightclub that will open in the Washington Corridor in the fall. (Courtesy Sekai Hospitality)
Sekai Hospitality eyeing fall opening for new Washington Corridor boutique nightclub

New York designer Marc Dizon will bring the new nightclub’s aesthetic to life.