Students, faculty, and staff will soon be able to purchase authentic Greek and Mediterranean food at Washington State University’s Compton Union Building (CUB).
The owner of the Pullman food establishment Yia Yia Nikki’s, Monir Desouky, signed a lease in December to open a new location of the popular restaurant in the CUB’s food court, located on the building’s first floor.
Karee Shaw, the director of the CUB, said Yia Yia Nikki’s could be ready to serve the WSU community during spring semester.
“What I’m most excited about is the variety Yia Yia Nikki’s brings to the CUB,” said Shaw. “We’ve never offered Greek and Mediterranean food here before.”
A growing family business
Yia Yia Nikki’s is already a familiar name to many in Pullman, with existing locations on South Grand Avenue and in the Lumberyard. The family run business got its start in 2015 in La Grande, Oregon, when Desouky and his two sons bought a small vacant building to create a restaurant.
Spurred by the success of Yia Yia Nikki’s in Oregon, the Desoukys decided to expand their business to Pullman, opening the Grand Avenue location in January 2020 and the Lumberyard location just a few months ago.
Upon learning about the available space in the CUB, Desouky reached out to Shaw in August to express interest in it. The CUB Advisory Board enthusiastically supported the idea of bringing Yia Yia Nikki’s to the food court, providing approval in October.
Desouky, who has years of experience working in food service at universities in Idaho, Oregon, California, and Texas, is excited to introduce Greek and Mediterranean food to the WSU community, calling it both healthy and flavorful.
“Our brand is built on serving high-quality food and providing excellent customer service,” Desouky said. “Everything we serve is fresh, never frozen, and made by hand.”
‘It’s not just about the food’
Desouky believes eating at Yia Yia Nikki’s is not just about the food – it is about the entire experience. He enjoys interacting with customers and looks forward to educating people unfamiliar with Greek and Mediterranean food about the dishes. The menu at the CUB will be very similar to those at other Yia Yia Nikki’s locations and will offer a variety of pitas, platters, and salads. Halal meats will be used and there will be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
“It is very evident the Desoukys enjoy being in the food industry and working together,” Shaw said. “They take pride in putting out a good product.”
Before Yia Yia Nikki’s can open, Desouky said he needs to have new signage made, purchase and install equipment, and reconfigure the space to meet the needs of his staff. He is committed to getting this work done as soon as possible while recognizing that the supply chain and labor challenges caused by the pandemic could cause delays.
“We are going to try our darndest to open during the spring semester,” Desouky said. “We’re very excited to get to know and serve faculty, staff, and students.”
Updates about Yia Yia Nikki’s opening date will be provided on CUB social media channels.