An authentic Italian restaurant will soon be opening at Shelby with the added bonus of a coffee shop inside.

Kozi’s Italian kitchen on East Dixon Boulevard, formerly the Mayflower seafood restaurant, has undergone a thorough inner and outer transformation over the past year and is in its final stages before welcoming guests.

The restaurant, which is run by the Kostantini family together with its business partner, Oz Milne, has been operating since March 2019 when the family bought the building and began renovations.

The owner said it would be worth the wait.

Fresh and local

George Kostantinis said they wanted to bring something new to Shelby, and they would offer authentic Italian cuisine with fresh ingredients that would be locally sourced with agricultural ingredients to the table. He said it was important for them to support local farmers, businesses and breweries.

They are also proud of the best and freshest products.

“Pasta is boiled right when you order it,” said Kostantinis.

Lasagna sheets were cut to order, and everything was made fresh, nothing frozen.

Most kitchen equipment comes from Italy, including pasta machines.

“We do a lot of work to change it,” said George. “It’s authentic. It’s fresh. Comfortable and inviting.”

George described this menu as very cohesive with all the classic dishes, such as fettuccine alfredo, as well as special sandwiches, panini, and flatbread, all handmade in the restaurant.

“Everything has just been made here,” he said. “Nothing is frozen.”

There will be side takeouts and roadside pickups as well as catering services.

Coffee and wine

This location will also offer more than just food.

When guests walk in, they are welcomed by a coffee shop called Zea Zeo Coffee. This will provide coffee and homemade desserts, cakes, croissants, and gelato. People can sit and enjoy their food or take it away. Zea Zeo Coffee will open at 7 am, suitable for people who need a quick breakfast and coffee on their way to work.

“We bring a European feel to it,” Kostantini said.

This restaurant also has a bar where beer, liquor and Italian wine will be served.

Party rooms can be booked for birthdays, bridal or baby showers, or function as conference rooms for meetings.

The owner anticipates doing a lot of catering and family food that can be made and taken home to be eaten because many people choose to avoid the crowds resulting from COVID-19, although eating in will be an option.

Currently, business owners are in the process of recruiting staff for all positions from bakers and pastry chefs to dishwashers, baristas, servers, and bartenders. People can stop by the restaurant to take the application.

The opening date will depend on when all positions were filled.

George said they wanted to make sure all staff and guests were safe during COVID-19, and they had worked with the health department to ensure they were open and operating safely.

This restaurant has Facebook and Instagram pages and a website that is currently being updated.

Very fitting

The family has extensive experience in this business.

George’s father, Ziko Kostantinis, was born and raised in Northern Greece and has been involved in restaurants since he was a child.

“Although he earned a degree in structural engineering, his passion for quality food, fresh ingredients and authentic cuisine made him interested in pursuing a side business as a professional chef and restaurant owner,” said George.

Ziko studies Italian cuisine under a professional chef in Italy.

The family came to North Carolina after years of searching for the best place to grow Kostantinis restaurants and develop the construction business.

When they find space in Shelby, they know it will be very suitable with access to fresh ingredients from local agriculture and the ability to support local businesses for ingredients.

Ziko’s wife, Styliani Kostantini, was also born and raised in Greece, and her father was involved in the coffee bean export business. He will use his passion and knowledge with coffee shops.

They will run the restaurant with the help and support of their two children, George and Anastasia, and their business partner, Oz Milne. Milne said he saw an opportunity in Shelby where there were not many Italian restaurants and wanted to bring authentic European roots to the area. He was born in Turkey and raised in Germany. He also has a real estate and investment business that he hopes will grow in Carolinas.

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