With dark red walls, a small dining area that sits 40 and a sizeable dark wood bar stocked with beer and wine, The High Country Greek might look similar to other Boone restaurants if it weren’t for small cultural tokens like the sign out front that says, “Opa!” and a menu filled with a variety of traditional Greek food. Boone’s newest Greek restaurant opened in mid-December and is starting to gain traction as Boone locals discover this hidden cultural gem.
Raleigh-native Allexia Brewer moved to Boone with her husband and three daughters 18 months ago after visiting their daughter, senior psychology major Adaira Brewer, at App State. Allexia Brewer realized shortly after moving here that there was no Greek food in the area.
“One of the things that struck me the most about the absence of Greek food here was the absence of the culture,” Allexia Brewer said. “Even though you can order Greek food online, there’s something very special about being able to expose people to things they haven’t been exposed to before. It’s part of our whole life in my family. We are Greek people.”
Allexia Brewer wrote a children’s book for young girls called “Monadiki: The Goddess of Fierce Leadership” in which the main character is a Greek girl. When she moved to Boone, Allexia Brewer began marketing her book. It was well-received and ended up in several book stores around town. While talking about her book, Allexia Brewer said several people asked her if she made Greek food as well.
“People asked over and over again,” Allexia Brewer said. “I thought, ‘There is really a want here. They’re open and ready for this.’”
The Brewer family has a long history in the restaurant business, starting with Allexia Brewer’s grandparents who came through Ellis Island from Greece and opened a restaurant in the early 1900s. Her father also owned several Burger King chains in North Carolina. In Raleigh, Allexia Brewer and her husband, Mike Brewer, owned a restaurant as well.
“Food is the connector,” Allexia Brewer said. “Food is what opens doors and brings people together.”
In a post on the App State Classifieds Facebook page on March 18, 2018, Allexia Brewer announced that her family was planning to open a Greek restaurant. The post received 94 likes from the Boone community.
“People exploded,” Allexia Brewer said.
Once the restaurant plans started rolling, the Brewers began searching for a location. Although they almost closed on a location at a remote campground with a “fabulous” kitchen, the owner of Deer Valley Athletic Club reached out to the family and convinced them to move into that location instead.
“Our restaurant in Raleigh used to be at a tennis complex just like this,” Allexia Brewer said.
Next to tennis courts and a pilates studio, The High Country Greek might not be noticed. Because the restaurant doesn’t have a noticeable store front from the outside, the primary means of marketing is through social media. Allexia Brewer formerly taught online marketing strategy, so she used those skills to market The High Country Greek.
“I’ve never been a fan of Facebook pages until my own.” Allexia Brewer said. “I have seen it work textbook with this business. People share, people follow, people communicate and people send their friends. The reach is crazy and the analytics on the page are insane.”
The High Country Greek opened Dec. 14. The hours are only from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays.
“Technically we’re in a soft open, so we’re just slowly easing into it and making sure our food quality is where we want it and our systems are in place, because this is going to be a big thing. I’m holding the reins back, just to be sure that when we do open, we meet people’s expectations,” Allexia Brewer said.
The High Country Greek’s menu has a variety of Greek options from calamari gyros to spanakopita to Greek salad to baklava sundaes for dessert.
“Our gyros are what everyone wants,” Allexia Brewer said. “Our gyros are like the cat’s meow. We do them really well. They look beautiful, and beauty is really important to me because food has to look good.”
The restaurant also serves Booneshine beer, but will soon have Greek wine and beer as well, Allexia Brewer said.
The only exception to authentic Greek food on the menu is falafel, which is traditionally Egyptian, according The High Country Greek Facebook page.
“I didn’t want to do falafel, but we had so many requests so I just said, ‘OK,’” Allexia Brewer said. “It’s been one of our best sellers, and we sell them like crazy.”
So far Allexia Brewer is thrilled with the restaurant’s success.
“What we’ve seen in a little over a month with people coming in here and breaking bread with us has been really exciting,” Allexia Brewer said.
Not only does The High Country Greek diversify the Boone food scene, but it also provides a familiar landscape for others with Greek heritage.
“We’ve had Greek people from the community come in and say, ‘I’m Greek,’ and I say, ‘Oh my gosh no way,’” Allexia Brewer said. “We’re just so blessed to bring the culture, the food and the story to Boone.”
Even though the restaurant is still in its early stages, Allexia Brewer said she continues to dream about the future.
“I would love to see a food truck or two,” Allexia Brewer said. “It’s already been more than we really thought that it would be this early.”
For more information about The High Country Greek, you can visit its Facebook page.