Olympic Steak & Pizza
The newest restaurant in Arlington has a long history in West Tennessee. The youngest of four restaurants now owned by the Tom Sinis family, the Arlington Olympic is the culmination of hard work, and, hopefully, perfect timing. “Our Arlington location has a completely new ‘space plan’, more modern, more in keeping with the times, we’ve added a patio to this location, a large event room for special occasions, a full-service bar, and probably the best addition, a pick-up window for call in orders,” explained Harry Sinis of the Sinis family. The new location is also across from the ‘coming soon’ Kroger in Arlington, and is in a great ‘growth’ location off of the interstate. Arlington has the second largest high school in the state, and is a very young city, in terms of demographics, which suits Sinis just fine. “The part of this business that I love the most is getting to serve the people in the area,” he explained with a light in his eyes, “We’ve seen this with all of the communities we serve, you work with the community, help it grow, and then a whole ball team comes in, in uniform, or parents with kids come in after the game, it’s full circle, it’s real community.” Harry grew up in this business, making dough, sauce, soup, hand-cutting the steaks, “All of the recipes are from scratch, even on the food bar, except the catfish - we didn’t have catfish in Greece!” He laughed and added, “We even hand grind the beef and sausage for the pizza in our kitchens.”
While Harry’s favorite entree is the House Pizza because of the unique flavor, “that you can’t get anywhere else”, there are a lot of people who simply come in for the salad bar, “There’s just something about making a salad the way YOU want it, versus a ‘house’ or ‘caesar’ salad that has everything that someone else likes on it, or that’s premade and waiting.” Olympic has a ton of things on their menu other than pizza and steak, like fish, chicken, gyros, but the food bar has been the ‘go-to’ for many families ever since they put the first one into a restaurant. “It’s easy, more convenient for people on time constraints, and we all are these days, rushing to dance lessons, ball games, everything for kids - or even rushing back to work at lunch,” Sinis continued, “we are trying to make it easy on parents, and everyone else to come in, spend a little time with family or friends and not have to worry about anything else.”
While the restaurants all have the same menu and recipes, each has its own decoration and flair. “They all have a large room for meetings, but Arlington is the first that we have built to be able to actually use it as an ‘event’ room.” Sinis continued, “The others all have good rooms, but we have been able to take advantage of extra space with this one.” They hope to be able to add features into their other locations, but are limited by space. Each of the locations hold a special place in their heart, it is truly a family owned and operated business, built the hard way, from scratch and the entire family working diligently to make it a success!
While the Sinis family has been in America since 1975, they weren’t always in Tennessee. Tom and Valsamo Sinis moved from Greece to the United States in hopes of a better future. Tough economic times and Civil War plagued Greece and many of her citizens fled to various countries. Tom and Valsamo's first stop in the United States was Chicago, due to its vibrant Greek Community. But Chicago lacked the warm, agricultural climate that Tom had grown up with near Nemea, Greece. In 1976, they packed up and headed to West Tennessee.
Their beginnings in Tennessee were humble to say the least. Valsamo washed dishes seven days a week for $50 and Tom was head cook and made not much more. One year later in 1977 they partnered up with a few other fellow Greeks to open up the first Olympic in a small shopping center in Dyersburg, actually called Olympia Pizza & Steak. Through the years Olympia turned into Olympic and the "Steak" swapped spots with "Pizza".
In 1985, Tom and Valsamo went on a limb to build the first restaurant they could really call their own, a 60 seat Olympic Steak House on Hwy 51 in Ripley. Olympic Steak House was an immediate hit with the locals and as its popularity grew people started coming from all over to try Olympic's unique cuisine of homemade dishes suited for the south, with a Greek twist.
In 1994, Tom and his wife, Susan, felt it was time to go yet another way. They decided to integrate pizza back into the menu, and opened Olympic Steak and Pizza in Atoka. The Atoka location proved to be the biggest success story yet. In 2007, the Millington location was added due to so many customers crossing the county line to come to Atoka. In 2009, the Sinis family ventured into Oakland, in Fayette Co., to serve another growing market area, providing wonderful food to an area who hadn’t grown up with Olympic Steak & Pizza. They have enjoyed success with each additional restaurant, and prove that the American Dream truly does work, with hard work and a willing effort.