Frank's Restaurant a classic Ann Arbor gem

BY J. BRADY MCCOLLOUGH
Daily Arts Writer
Published April 14, 2004

Most Underrated Resturant

 

Pete Poulos has personally prepared every meal served at
Frank’s Restaurant for the last 20 years, but he’s not
in the business of cooking.

“I’m just here to please people,” Poulos
said.

Frank’s has been pleasing its patrons since 1969, when
Frank Petropoulos partnered up with Poulos, his brother in-law, to
open up an authentic Greek restaurant near the corner of Maynard
and East William streets.

Whether you’re in the mood for a Western omelette, a plate
of French toast or a cup of freshly brewed coffee, park yourself at
Frank’s, voted the Daily’s Most Underrated Restaurant
in Ann Arbor.

Odds are, you and your friends have never even noticed
Frank’s. While the restaurant’s menu claims that,
“Like the Acropolis, the fortified high point of Ann Arbor is
Frank’s,” the high-rise Tower Plaza apartment building
shields it from plain view.

Fortified or not, the one thing you can always count on at
Frank’s is familiar faces. Employing only three people
(including himself), Poulos has effectively created a family
atmosphere. Usually, patrons find a two-man show: Pete on the grill
and either Paula, a long-time friend of Poulos or Athena,
Poulos’s daughter, standing on their heads to take orders
from every table.

“The thing that keeps me going is the people,”
Athena said, looking tired from another hard day’s work.

The 69-year-old Poulos is the heart and soul of the joint. Aside
from getting the chance to see old friends and meet new ones,
Poulos loves his job because it keeps him on his toes.

“I’m still young enough, and I’m still capable
to do my work,” Poulos said. “It’s enjoyment. It
takes concentration to cook. You have different varieties. Somebody
wants this; somebody wants that.”

Growing up during World War II and the Greek Civil War in the
1940s, Poulos left his family in Artemision, a village near the
Greek town of Tripoli, to come to the United States in 1952. It was
an “interesting” experience for the 16-year-old, who
didn’t know a word of English. Poulos visited a retired
school teacher in his new home of Muskegon every day to learn the
language. Within two years, Poulos knew enough English to enroll in
10th grade at Muskegon High School, where he would graduate in
1956.

The next stop on Poulos’s odyssey was Fort Hood, Texas,
where he spent about three years in the Army. Hanging on the wall
at Frank’s is a newspaper clipping from 1960 when Poulos was
named Outstanding Soldier.

“I’ve been making the papers all along,”
Poulos said, laughing.

Poulos went back to Muskegon after his time in the service and
worked in the shoe business until getting his first chance to cook
at a restaurant in ’63. After taking the time to learn the
restaurant business in Muskegon, Poulos moved to Ann Arbor to join
hands with Frank, who moved back to Greece in ’73.

Luckily, Frank or no Frank, patrons know that when they walk
down Maynard Street and see the fluorescent sign in the window
flickering on and off frantically, Pete Poulos will be inside
behind the grill, as dependable as the Acropolis.