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Maria, John & George Giannaris of Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)

A year-long party at Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant starts today.

In celebration of the restaurant’s 40th anniversary, the Route 25 eatery is holding 40 special celebrations this year, starting with a one-of-a-kind offering today.

The restaurant was founded in 1976, when John Giannaris partnered with family relative, Gus Hartofelis, and bought Brown’s Cabins. While Hartofelis handled the real estate and rentals, Giannaris ran the snack bar on the property.

The rest, as they say, is history. Soon customers were lining up at the snack bar for goodies like their now famous fresh-squeezed lemonade. In 1983 the snack bar underwent a major renovation, turning it into a complete indoor/outdoor restaurant. The restaurant is now run by John’s son George Giannaris and his wife, Maria.

“Our actual anniversary is the 4th of July,” said George Giannaris. “We’re doing 40 events in our 40th year.”

Today’s special is “interracial soup,” a Greek take on Italian Wedding Soup. The special offerings will continue through November.

Some anniversary specials include: A free lemonade on Groundhog Day, February 2, if the groundhog predicts an early spring. If it’s six more weeks of winter, customers get a free cup of soup. On Leap Day, February 29, customers who buy one gryo, can get a second gyro for just 40 cents.

Bigger events will include the popular Mother’s Day and Father’s Day brunches, plus special wine pairing dinners, including this spring’s Prohibition Farmer’s Ball on April 9, which will highlight spirits instead of wines.

On June 11, Hellenic will throw a release party to celebrate the publishing of George Giannaris’ second book, “Ferry Tales 2: When Hellenic Freezes over.” The book is a continuation of Giannaris’ first book “Ferry Tales”, a collection of personal stories, photographs and recipes. On July 3rd the restaurant will celebrate its opening day and the country’s birthday with greek music and dancing out on the lawn.

This is all part of Giannaris’ plan to move Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant into the future. He’s seen families come back year after after year — and while he doesn’t want to flip his menu on its head and turn off those customers, he would like to integrate requests that have been made over the past couple of summers.

“I never want to turn off my existing clientele,” said Giannaris.

New options include more organic, gluten-free and vegetarian fare.

“We have a huge amount of customers that have been coming here for decades. We get a lot of families as well, yet the region is changing,” he said.  “We’re seeing a lot more people in their 30s coming down this way, trying the wines and they have no idea who I am. I just want to be approachable to that generation as well, but not lose my original foundation.”

For a complete rundown of all 40 anniversary events taking place at Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant, go to their website at The Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant is located at 5145 Main Road in East Marion. Call 631-477-0138 for more information.

Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant turns 40 this year (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)
Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant turns 40 this year (Credit: Monique Singh-Roy)