International poker champion opens new Greek restaurant in Milford
AFTER winning more than £100,000 in an international poker competition Milford businessman Artur Gjoka has launched a new Greek restaurant in Hurst Road.
Inspired by his childhood spent growing up in Greece, Albanian born Artur (42) and his team of 18 staff has launched Faros Greek Restaurant in the premises of the former Marine Café.
Artur, who also owns a hand car washing business and bed and breakfast in Milford, says so far trade has been phenomenal. “We have been really, really busy and the amazing sunny February weather has certainly helped. I’m really pleased with how it’s all going and I’m very proud of my brilliant team who are already making it such a success.”
The restaurant’s open plan dining area features distressed wooden tables and mismatched chairs and includes a large bar with huge selection of Greek wines, beers and spirits as well as international drinks.
The blue and white colour scheme of the dining area has been chosen to reflect its coastal location, and walls have been decorated with Greek plates and a number of hand-painted murals featuring traditional villages.
Artur was able to partially finance the launch of Faros after coming second in an international poker contest run by Party Poker, walking away with a cash prize of more than £100,000.
He qualified for the international competition after beating 946 players to be crowned UK champion in an open contest run by the company. He ultimately came second in their international competition in Nottingham last October after competing against over 1,000 of the world’s top players.
He said: “I have been playing poker seriously for about eight years and I have played all over the UK. Next month I’ll be taking part in a big international contest in Barcelona.”
Artur has lived in the local area for around 20 years, opening a thriving hand car washing business in Keyhaven Road six years ago. He also runs a bed and breakfast in the village.
He said: “I have had incredible help and support from my amazing partner Katie Rickman. She is an absolute superstar, without her I wouldn’t have been able to take all this on.”
Overseeing the restaurant team is customer service manager James Fry, who has been delighted with the instant popularity of Faros. He said: “We are only on day 14 and we are already doing about 100 covers a day – which is just incredible. We have had an amazing reaction from our customers – everyone is just blown away by our wonderful Greek food and laid-back family-friendly atmosphere. They love the good vibes, good food and good wine.”
“The meze style of eating has gone down very well. There isn’t really another Greek restaurant in the local area so we are finding that lots of people are happy to travel to Milford to give us a try.”
Faros is open seven days a week from 8.30am to midnight, serving a breakfast menu, lunch, and dinner as well as homemade cakes and light bites.
The team has also worked hard to create a welcoming environment for family dining, with a bespoke children’s menu which features dishes like pork souvlaki and grilled chicken breast.
James said: “Although Milford is generally regarded as an older community, there are a lot of young families who will really appreciate a family-friendly venue serving good quality affordable food.”
The main menu features an extensive range of meze-style starters which can also be served as used as sharing dishes. These include baked feta cheese cooked in filo pastry and served with honey and sesame seeds (£4.75); giant beans baked in rich tomato sauce (£4.10); zucchini fritters with feta cheese and herbs (£4.50); stir fried pork fillet in white wine, with mustard and honey (£5.50), and spicy Greek sausage with peppers and tomato sauce (£5.70).
The traditional Greek main courses include chicken souvlaki (£10.40); moussaka (£12.70) beef stifado – chunks of tender beef stew cooked in shallots and red wine and served with chips (£12.50); lamb glouvetsi – Greek lamb stew with orzo pasta cooked in a traditional method with mizithra cheese (£12.40) and Fasolakia – Greek-style green beans with vegetables cooked in tomato sauce with extra virgin olive oil (£10.20).
The menu also includes a grill section with lamb chops, salmon, seabass, 10z rib eye steak; and a sharing mixed grill; a range of salads including Greek salad, Haloumi salad and chicken salad; and Greek dips such as tzatziki and taramas which are served with toasted warm pitta breads.
Faros is also open daily for breakfast with a range of delicious dishes on the menu including pancakes served with maple syrup and bacon (6.95), eggs Florentine (£6.95), eggs Benedict (£6.95), full English breakfast (£8.50); vegan breakfast (£8) and a special Faros breakfast featuring scrambled eggs, grilled halloumi, hummus, pitta bread, slow roasted beef tomato, baked beans and Greek sausage.
Faros is open seven days a week from 8.30am to midnight. Breakfast is served 8.30am to 11am; the lunch and dinner menu is then available 12 noon to 9.30pm. For more information and bookings, telephone 01590 644999 or visit the Faros Greek Restaurant Facebook page.