Name: Deborah Melkis

Business name: Meze Ellesmere

Opening hours: Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm until 10pm. Sunday from 5pm to 8pm (currently closed for dining in due to Covid-19 restrictions)

Address: 31 Cross St, Ellesmere, SY12 0AW

When did you open your business and why?

MEZE opened in February 2017. It had always been a dream of mine to have some kind of hospitality venue where people could meet with friends and family in a ‘home form home’ kind of environment.

Having lived in Cyprus for 30 years all of my best times were spent like this, in Greek taverns and restaurants where we would spend literally hours eating and drinking and of course with my extended Cypriot family at home where having people over for lunch would usually end up being a gathering of maybe 15 people and more often than not would go on all day.

My biggest inspiration and teacher was my wonderful mother-in-law ‘Kyria Eleni’ the hub of our family who took the word hospitable to a whole new level.

Why in this location?

WHEN I first saw our property I knew right away that it would be the perfect place to recreate the traditional Greek way of socialising, getting together around the table to share food and put the world to rights.

At the time there were no Greek restaurants in the whole county so I knew it would work. Totally unexpectedly someone else opened a small Greek place just six months after I bought the house and right around the corner! Fortunately he soon decided to move back to Greece and this great opportunity came up to make a dream come true. My daughter Elena and I took over the restaurant and in December 2019 we finally made the move to our own place on Cross Street.

Living and having a business in Ellesmere has been an absolute gift.

The people here are so friendly and supportive with a genuine sense of community and our local customers have become friends and are the backbone of Meze.

Tell us about your business

MEZE is a family run Greek Restaurant offering fresh traditional Greek dishes made from recipes handed down through the family.

We have created a friendly and relaxed environment where everyone is welcome and we can pretty much guarantee there is something for all tastes. Vegan, Vegetarian the kids and Grandma will all find a tasty meal even if they have never eaten Greek food before.

Of course the pandemic could not have come at a worse time, just weeks after we moved to our new premises, and so all our plans were pretty much out of the window.

We jumped straight to takeaway meals and cocktails, which were rather popular in the summer, and Elena set about learning everything related to social media and marketing. I have to say she has done an amazing job of keeping Meze visible and totally up to speed with every change that has come along. Nevertheless, we have been hard hit by the continued situation. All of our planning pre move was for a restaurant that could seat more than 100 guests at a time having such a wonderful outside space in the courtyard. Presently we are probably operating at maybe 15 to 20 per cent. We really do want to say that our local and regular customers have been truly amazing and we genuinely can’t thank them enough, they have really made us feel that it’s all worth it and given us the strength to keep going whatever.

What is your proudest moment?

I THINK seeing how much people love our food and being in a space that we have created and hearing them say how much it reminds them of their holidays in Greece would be up there.

Having people choose Meze to make their memories and celebrate their big life moments is such a blessing. We have had so many birthdays, a couple of surprise marriage proposals and one Valentine’s Day we had two young teenagers on their first date ever, dropped off by Mum, and a couple celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary.

Personally, I would also have to say getting the chance to work with my daughter who is an amazing business partner, I am in awe of her knowledge and work ethics every day. We must also say how very proud we both are of our core team, Molly Roberts and Veronica Stoyanova who have been with us from the start of our journey.

Any strange requests?

I’M SURE we have but after the level of ‘strange’ we have all seen this year I cannot think of any.