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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

John Calamas


Owned by John Calamas, Yanni’s (“John’s” in Greek) is tucked away in the upscale Vestavia City Center and is a thoroughly modern addition to the city’s long history of Greek-owned restaurants. John was born in Birmingham, and has fond memories of his grandfather and uncle, who were both in the food business. Evidently, food and Greek ingredients were in his blood. From a stint at Sneaky Pete’s Hot Dogs (started by Pete Graphos) as a young man, to working with Frank Stitt at the acclaimed Highlands Bar & Grill, John got his feet wet in the restaurant business in extremes. Before opening Yanni’s, John had Justin’s, which was a casual steak and seafood restaurant. He was forced to relocate and the result was Yanni’s. John says he likes infusing Greek ingredients into just about everything, and with things on the menu like champagne poached salmon egg rolls with tzaziki sauce and feta grits, there is no denying the Greek influence. New South, indeed!

Date of interview:
2004-03-10 14:00

Interviewer:
Amy Evans

Photographer:
Amy Evans

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