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Expanding a Carolina presence: Showmars turns to Wake Forest

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Southern hospitality and full of charm. The leadership teams of Showmars Hospitality Group/4 Show LLC, couldn’t deny the appeal of Wake Forest when they first laid eyes on the small town in early 2018.

“When we decided to expand beyond Charlotte, we knew we wanted to find a diverse community, that also contained similarities to our other Carolina locations,” said Dean Peroulas, CEO of Showmars Hospitality Group. “Growth is important to us, but our priority will always be staying true to our roots.”

With a population of just over 42,000, Wake Forest is more than 180 miles east of Charlotte, where Showmars was born more than 35 years ago. In 1982, George Couchell (affectionately nicknamed Mr. C), a first-generation Greek immigrant, who graduated from Duke University and served as a naval officer, followed his dream of opening a restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina. With a diverse mix of Southern and Greek food, Mr. C landed on the neutral name, Showmars, not too Greek and not too Southern.

From the start, the innovative restaurant emerged as one of the first fast-casual concepts in Charlotte’s restaurant industry. The menu hailed the “best burger in town” – a pita burger.

“Mr. C recognized there was a void between fast food and full-service dining,” Peroulas said. “He knew he wanted Showmars to marry the speed of fast-food with the comfort, courtesy and ease of tableside service.”

In the last 30 years, Showmars has grown to more than 30 locations. Today, Showmars’ menu is always evolving, while staying true to key customer favorites. Showmars’ World’s Best Flounder and World-Famous Fish Sandwich are key Southern staples, and Greek favorites include the Gyro Pita and Chicken Santorini, as well as the Greek Salad.

The current menu also features additional fresh menu items and products with clean ingredients like sustainably-sourced fish, chemical-free dressing and even ketchup without any high-fructose corn syrup. The restaurant also used the new Wake Forest location to debut the Beyond Burger and Vegan Pita. The revolutionary plant-based burger looks, cooks and satisfies like beef.

“By introducing vegetarian options, health conscious and responsibly-sourced items, we want all of our customers to know that their tastes and diets are constantly in the forefront of our minds when we’re making changes to our menu,” said Greg Photopoulos, operator in Wake Forest and partner of 4Show LCC.

Showmars’ Wake Forest location has had a lot of firsts for the restaurant chain. Wake Forest was the first location to provide fresh cooked-to-order, hand-pattied burgers. All of Showmars burgers are fresh, not frozen, and cooked-to-order, but this is the first time they’ve also offered hand-pattied to the lineup.

There were also several key offerings that Showmars wanted to make special for the families of Wake Forest, including Mini Meals and Family Meals. Mini Meals are perfect options for children, as well as adults with lighter appetites. Family Meals are a great solution for customers on the go, who may need to pick up and bring home dinner.

The Wake Forest restaurant also has special beverage offerings, including local craft beer on tap. Showmars partners with local brewery, White Street Brewing, to provide its Kolsch and Hoptimist IPA. Showmars also used Wake Forest to debut a premium beverage partnership with Tractor. Tractor provides organically better beverages, that are 100 percent natural and non-GMO.

Showmars is also looking forward to becoming involved in the community. In Charlotte, the restaurant has partnered with Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen in raising money for Levine Children’s Hospital, as well as collecting coats, food, books and school supplies for local children.

“We consider the people who we serve every day as a part of our family,” said Peroulas. “We believe it is our responsibility to show our commitment by offering support and making a difference wherever we can and for whoever we can.”

Over the last eight months, Showmars has welcomed thousands of new customers through its doors in Wake Forest, sharing the restaurant’s love for Greek and Southern fare, exceptional customer service and family. In the short amount of time, Showmars has not only felt welcomed by the community, but encouraged to expand again.

This spring, Showmars will break ground on a new Brier Creek restaurant. It will be the eatery’s 31st location stretching across the Carolinas.