Simone Koutoufaris grew up in the restaurant business, so opening her own eatery was a no-brainer.
“I’ve been planning this all my life,” says the 42-year-old restaurateur, as she looks around her new breakfast and lunch joint in Mt. Lebanon. “I was waiting for the right location and the right time.”
Situated smack dab in the middle of Mt. Lebanon’s Washington Road business district, Simone’s is already a busy gathering place for locals looking for a hearty meal, a strong cup of joe and some good conversation.
Koutoufaris’s family spent decades running local Greek restaurants and pizza parlors, and they still operate Opa Gyros in Oakland. So diners can find a few Mediterranean-inspired dishes on Simone’s menu. The Greek Benedict features two poached eggs, gyro meat, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese and tzatziki sauce on farm bread.
Koutoufaris says she plans to add more Greek favorites, such as spinach pie, and run daily specials that’ll allow her to experiment in the kitchen. Seafood selections will be served on Fridays during Lent.
But breakfast is her favorite meal, so there are plenty of options for early birds, including fresh-squeezed orange juice, an array of three-egg omelets (try the gyro), pancakes, crepes and sandwiches such as the Yo Yo Burrito, a flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, potatoes, black beans and cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.
Lighter morning fare is also available: You’ll find oatmeal, yogurt and the No. 1 seller, avocado toast served with two eggs any way you like them.
Since Simone’s opened on Feb. 19, the traditional Reuben has been a big hit with the lunch crowd, as are the burgers. And while the restaurant doesn’t do dessert, each patron leaves with a handmade Simone’s chocolate —
a sort of edible business card.
Raised in neighboring Dormont, Koutoufaris loves the walkability of Mt. Lebanon and its overall community vibe. Stop in during business hours — which run Tuesday to Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and you’re sure to see a familiar face. Many Koutoufaris family members help out in the kitchen.
On a recent Friday morning, matriarch Tina Koutoufaris was busy pouring coffee, running orders and chatting with customers in the dining room, which has blue-and-white décor reminiscent of the Greek flag.
“I learned everything from my parents,” Koutoufaris says. “I hope that the business grows. I hope that I keep the customers happy and maybe, one day, I can open another.”