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Paco and Maria Fotiadis discuss menu items inside the kitchen at Two Crazy Greeks, a take-out restaurant on Hixson Pike, near Highway 153.
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Paco Fotiadis, 57, stands outside his Two Crazy Greeks take-out restaurant on Hixson Pike. He and his brother, Nicky Fotiadis recently opened the walk-up restaurant in the parking lot near Hixson Pike and Highway 153.

Paco Fotiadis has lived and worked all over the place. He's a stand-up comedian. And a blue-collar construction worker.

He also makes a mean Greek gyro, and he knows it.

"I've had seven different businesses in my lifetime, but this is my passion — cooking," he said.

Fotiadis co-owns and operates 2 Crazy Greeks walk-up restaurant on Hixson Pike, near the Highway 153 intersection — the blue-and-white building with the blue-and-white railing and the blue-and-white Greek flags flying.

Fotiadis' brother, Nicky, co-owns the restaurant.

"He's the quiet Greek," Paco said. "I'm not the quiet one."

Fotiadis went into business in Chattanooga with the Greek restaurant about six months ago, after spotting the old BBQ City building and equipment on Hixson Pike in a Craigslist ad, and purchasing it.

He and his wife, Maria, spent three weeks repainting the building, where they now serve up a variety of authentic Greek plates: homemade hummus and Tzatziki sauce, fresh-made falafel and pita and glistening baklava and kourabiedes.

Oh yeah, and gyros.

"We got lamb, chicken. We got beef, we got pork," boasts Fotiadis.

"I make my sauce every day because it doesn't last," said Maria, casting a glance at her husband, who's notorious for snacking here and there.

So far, Chattanoogans seem to be loving what the crazy Greeks are doing. Despite having no on-site seating, hungry diners are still willing to brave the cold and get takeout from the restaurant. The restaurant also caters to businesses.

Paco thinks it's pretty simple.

"This is fresh Greek food made daily," he said one cold afternoon, as Maria took orders at the building's sliding window.

"We've been around Greek food all our lives," he added. "We create something here. We put it together. Mom-and-pops are the right deal, because we serve fresh food."

Fotiadis was born in Kalamata, Greece, a town on the southwest coast of the lower peninsula, famous for its olives. At 3 years old, Fotiadis' family came to the United States, and Fotiadis grew up in New York City — that's where he got his accent.

When he talks, it's immediately recognizable, emphasized when he drops a "fuggedaboutit."

Paco declined to say how much money he, Maria and his brother have invested in 2 Crazy Greeks. Think of it as a labor of love.

"Our investment is our hard-working investment," he said. "All I know is that we all work hard. I know what I'm doing, and that's why this little business is going up and not going down."

Maria and Nicky like the idea of making 2 Crazy Greeks a sit-down restaurant. Paco doesn't.

"You have more expenses. You need more help," he said.

Paco did buy a trailer and commissioned a Coney Island-themed paint job for its exterior, and when summer and warm nights come back, he said 2 Crazy Greeks will host live bands and live music and he hopes to create a carnival-like atmosphere. It'll be called "Greek Night," he said, and 2 Crazy Greeks will bring the ice cream if you'll bring the wine.

Also, Paco plans to operate three New York City-style hotdog wagons in downtown Chattanooga later this year. He'll call it Paco's Express Dogs and More.

If he sounds like a dreamer, he doesn't really care — it's right there in the 2 Crazy Greeks name, after all.

"I might be crazy," he said, "but the thing is, I'm pumping out great food. Healthy food."

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

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