A feast for the senses — restaurant’s roots nearly 100 years old

Published 9:04 pm Monday, March 10, 2014

MIKE VOSS | DAILY NEWS THIRD GENERATION RESTAURATEUR: Dimitri “Jimmy the Greek” Katsogiannos offers a variety of food and great oldies music at his Jukebox Deli & Dogs.

THIRD GENERATION RESTAURATEUR: Dimitri “Jimmy the Greek” Katsogiannos offers a variety of food and great oldies music at his Jukebox Deli & Dogs.

Jukebox Deli & Dogs may be off the beaten path, but owner Dimitri “Jimmy the Greek” Katsogiannos doesn’t believe that will keep customers from beating a path to his restaurant near Cypress Landing.

Jukebox Deli & Dogs opened about six months ago at 190 Cypress Commons Way, which is near the entrance to Cypress Landing. Jukebox Deli’s roots go back to 1916 when James Katsogiannos came from Greece and opened The Puritan restaurant in Carthage in Moore County. From there, other family members opened restaurants around the country.

“Pretty much, we’ve been in the business since 1916 — three generations,” said “Jimmy the Greek” Katsogiannos during a break in the lunch rush last Thursday.

Katsogiannos said pronouncing his last name “is a mouthful,” and so is the menu at Jukebox Deli. The restaurant’s interior is an eyeful. Its walls are decorated with autographed photographs of famous athletes, movie stars and other celebrities. Dozens of vinyl records decorate the walls, as do menus from restaurants around when a steak dinner cost $4, a cocktail cost 70 cents and a slice of pie cost 35 cents.

The photographs represent celebrities Katsogiannos and/or his family members have met over the years in their restaurants.

“Some of the people ate with us back home,” he said.

Yes, there is a jukebox. For a quarter, one gets two selections. Most of the songs available are from the 1950 and 1960s, such as hits by the Drifters, Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion” and Johnny Maestro and the Crests’ “Sixteen Candles.”

Initially, Jukebox Deli was supposed to be a restaurant for one of Katsogiannos’ brothers who worked in the hospitality industry. That brother was laid off four times in five years.

Katsogiannos, living in Portland, Ore., at that time, began looking for a place to get his brother, who lives in Smithfield, set up in the restaurant business. He chose the site near Cypress Landing. Having attended East Carolina University, he was familiar with eastern North Carolina.

They opened Jukebox Deli, but after a month of it opening, the brother left for a job as general manager with a hotel in Goldsboro.

Katsogiannos’ life has been a bit different in the past several months,

“My wife and children are back in Washington state. I’m pretty here working morning, noon and night,” Katsogiannos said.

The menu at Jukebox Deli reflects the diversity of the people living at Cypress Landing, he said, nothing that its residents come from all over the United States. Many of those residents spend a lot of time traveling. That presents a challenge, he said, but not one that cannot be overcome.

“We’ve got a local following,” Katsogiannos said, noting that the following come from beyond Cypress Landing.

Jukebox Deli offers a variety of items from Carolina classics such as barbecue sandwiches, to Nathan’s all-beef hot dogs, to Greek food such as gyros, to tuna melts, to a grilled cheese sandwich and more.

Jukebox Deli & Dogs is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays for lunch and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for dinner. It is closed Saturdays. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. For more information about Jukebox Deli, call 252-948-0055. The restaurant is off Old Blounts Creek Road in the Cypress Commons complex.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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