BELOIT — For Bob Christidis, owner of The Olive Branch, 2024 is the year that his long hours of work are set to finally pay off.
Bob, his wife Michele, and their hardworking team of close-knit employees have been operating the Greek food truck in the Stateline Area since 2017, and the Olive Branch is finally opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Beloit later this year.
The restaurant, called Kalamata, will occupy 315 S. State St. in downtown Beloit, where the Fresco Fajita House once served Beloit until it closed in 2023. The renovations on the space are set to be finished by late fall or winter in 2024.
“I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant,” Christidis said. “This is something that’s always been a passion of mine.”
Christidis started with a food truck because it was easier to manage and he could reach people from all around Rockford. In addition to the Beloit restaurant, the Olive Branch also has set up an online kitchen at the Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road in Loves Park.
The decision to open a restaurant in Beloit of all places was an easy one, since Christidis was born and raised in the community on the Wisconsin/Illinois border, and he considers it a second home where many of his relatives still live.
His parents were both from Greece and many of the dishes on the menu are taken directly from Christidis’s childhood. His personal favorite is the pastitsio, a Greek baked pasta dish that never tasted better than when his mother made it.
“Every person who works here puts love in the food and that’s what makes it so good,” said Manager Vicky Scherer.
Kalamata will be the only Greek restaurant in the area and has a menu full of authentic and seasoned dishes, such as gyro sandwiches, kabobs, rice bowls, spanakopitas, baklava, and more.
According to Christidis, “having great employees, treating customers well, [and] serving great food” is the key to running a successful business and he looks forward to proving to Beloit consumers that he is up to the task.