Like many great stories, this one begins at a party.
It all started the night before Nick Anthony Della Penna began his new job as Vice President of Food and Beverage at Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Along with this major step in his career, Nick was celebrating another milestone — his 50th birthday. Family and friends gathered in his honor; among them was Nick’s neighbor, Trent Jones. Trent spent his career working in real estate and small business ownership, and he was anxious to try something new. It was at this party that Trent first asked Nick if the successful casino businessman had ever considered owning a restaurant. Nick had not… but within a year, the two neighbors would become business partners.
“I had 20 years in the casino industry, and I was ready for something new,” says Nick. “I thought Trent would be a good partner and we took it from there.”
The pair discovered The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill — a successful restaurant owned by a Greek/Armenian family in Henderson, Nevada — just a few weeks after officially deciding to move forward on their entrepreneurial journey together. The Great Greek originally opened in 2011, and by the time Nick and Trent found it, there were lines out the door. The business partners took over ownership and operation of the restaurant in January of 2016.
The Great Greek’s new owners say they didn’t need to make any major changes. What was already in place was working. They did make a few systematic changes, and by the end of their first year, the restaurant’s gross revenue grew by 18 percent. It was time to expand.
In June of 2017, they opened a second restaurant in the southwest area of Las Vegas, this time building from the ground up. By then, Nick and Trent were already thinking about the future. They decided this shop would be the flagship location for The Great Greek’s growing empire.
The second location was an instant success, with daily sales eclipsing the sales of the original Henderson location in the first week. Nick and Trent wanted to start sharing The Great Greek experience with customers, and other entrepreneurs, around the world. Shortly thereafter, they began working with the United Franchise Group, the global leader for entrepreneurs, with more than 1,400 locations in 80 countries, to make that dream a reality. Now, there are new The Great Greek restaurants on the way in Las Vegas and in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, with inquiries from prospective owners as far away as Egypt.
Mediterranean and Greek food isn’t new, in fact, it seems like a time-honored recipe for success. And there isn’t anything like it in the fast-casual dining sector.
“I truly believe that in very short order we’re going to be the worldwide leader in fast-casual Mediterranean food,” says Nick. “We have a product that is so special and there isn’t another Greek brand out there.”