Dunwoody now has its very own authentic Greek bakery. In fact, the shop is so authentically Greek that visiting on a Saturday will feel familiar to anyone who has seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Owned by Soula Levendakis and her husband, Theodore Kazazakis, both originally from Greece, Zukerino Pastry Shop is celebrating its grand opening during the month of December with a wide variety of Greek breads, pastries and specialties such as Spanakopita, plus elaborately decorated custom-made wedding cakes, birthday cakes and pies that are also sold to high-end Atlanta restaurants.
Theo, who learned the trade in his family’s bakery in Greece, is also the baker at Zukerino. Before opening his own bakery, he was for seven years the culinary pastry chef at the famous Landmark Diner, which has been serving Greek food to Atlantans since the early 1990s.
Since Theo is at the shop baking by 4 a.m. every morning and gone by 1 p.m., his wife, Soula, is the face customers know. And here the resemblance to the movie begins.
On a recent Saturday, the shop was full of Dunwoodians who had seen the sign and many of Soula’s friends from the Atlanta Greek community. Everybody was talking with everybody – animatedly, simultaneously – sampling the shop’s wares and offering advice. Even the non-Greeks joined in. Merely shopping at Zukerino Pastry Shop seemed a celebration of food, family and friends.
Dunwoodian Cindy Waasdorp had ordered a lavish birthday cake for her husband after reading a friend’s Facebook post that “she had bought a great cake here.”
Georgia Ekonomu, a native Atlantan intent on keeping her Greek heritage very much alive, had driven over from Druid Hills to buy some authentic Greek pastries and bread.
What makes Zukerino so authentic is that everything is made in the traditional Greek way. To start, Theo uses olive oil rather than vegetable oil, margarine or butter in his breads and cookies. And he uses only fresh fruits, nothing canned, to decorate his cakes and fill his pies.
Many people come for the authentic Greek breads. Theo makes one with Kalamata olives. To make his sweet holiday bread, Tsourekia, he uses a Greek spice that comes from a specific tree that grows only on one specific island in Greece and costs $500 per 500-gram box.
Other items of interest include Spanakopita, which Theo makes as a main course using not just traditional filo, feta and spinach but also veal. His Greek cookies, which are more like pastries than American cookies, include Greek favorites such as Kourabiedes, a soft shortbread covered with powdered sugar. Another Greek favorite is a hand-shaped pastry called Koulourakia, a traditional holiday pastry.
Soula cautions visitors not to expect a fancy decor. Located in the old Waffle House on Cotillion Drive, along the westbound side of I-285, their new shop required massive renovations because of vandalism during the months the Waffle House sat vacant.
“We had to replace everything,” she said, “from the wiring and the pumps to the bathrooms, even the door handles and the phone wires.”
They rented the place anyway because it was close to their Dunwoody home.
“It is the future for us,” she said.
It didn’t help that shortly after they had signed the lease, a massive tire flew off an 18-wheeler on 285 and crashed through the shop’s windows, adding to their list of renovations.
“We had no insurance,” she said, “so we opened as soon as we could to start making money.”
People who visit Zukerino Pastry Shop will hardly notice the lack of fancy furniture. During the month of December, in honor of its grand opening, the shop is offering 10 percent off everything. Christmas shoppers would be wise to check out the generous sampler trays, wrapped for the holidays and priced at only $6.99.
Zukerino Pastry Shop, located at 2230 Cotillion Drive in Dunwoody, is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For information, call 770-220-1733.