Yamas Mediterranean Street Food: Cheers to Good Health and Mac & Cheese!
By Kristen Margo Daukas
The last time the economy crashed the way it is crashing currently was in 2007. During that time, the Michael family relocated from Florida to Winston-Salem and opened the first restaurant under The Michael Family Restaurant Group – Mama Zoe’s which is located on Reynolda Road and one of the city’s most popular places. Since that time, they have opened Waldo’s Wings Burgers & Brews, Cin Cin Burger Bar, and most recently, Yamas Mediterranean Street Food.
Yamas opened in March of 2019 and considers themselves to be a “fast-casual” Mediterannean restaurant where guests go down a line to build their meal – similar to a Moe’s or Chipotle concept. Guests are able to build their own bowls and get to choose from greens or grains, then top that with protein or spreads, and from there they pick up to 8 of their favorite toppings. Offering healthy options that are quick has proven to be a success for Yamas as they see a constant stream of regular customers daily.
In addition to their bowls, they also have a regular menu with standard “favorites” as well as unique items that many may not have ever tried. If guests aren’t familiar with Mediterannean dishes, a good place to start is with Chicken Souvlaki or the ever-popular Gyro sandwich. In the bowl dishes, the chicken and rice is top of the list for many customers. Mediterannean Fries, White Chocolate Baba Ganoush, Falafel Fritter, and Spanakopita are other popular menu items. And of course, their award-winning Mac & Cheese but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The staff at Yamas realizes that a lot of people can be overwhelmed and intimidated by all the different options and toppings spread before them. Usually, when they’re serving guests like that, they bring it back to basics and start asking questions like “what kind of flavors do you like”, “what are your favorite proteins”, etc. Guests will find the staff very well trained and willing to help. The great thing about the ingredients is they all go together in a delicious manner, so you really ca
n’t go wrong with anything you create and with all the different options, it’s almost impossible to have the same thing twice unless that’s what you want to do!
Yamas was the first place winner in this year’s Mac & Cheese Cookoff which was a big deal for them since they had never participated before. They were excited to meet a lot of new, future guests at the Cookoff – many who had never heard of the restaurant. When asked what makes their Mac & Cheese unique from other recipes, you may be surprised to hear that it’s adding Greek yogurt into the ingredients! If you’ve never eaten Greek yogurt, one of the things that makes it unique to traditional yogurts is that it has a certain “tang” to it and when you use it to cook with, it definitely creates a different but delicious flavor profile.
Unfortunately, just shy of their one-year anniversary, the company decided that the smartest and safest thing they could do for their staff and the community was to close all four restaurants down for an indefinite period of time due to the COVID-19 outbreak. It was a decision that wasn’t easy to make since not only are all of their restaurants busy and popular places, but their staff members and guests are more like family than customers. While many restaurants in our area are offering pickup and delivery options, the executive team did not feel that it was worth sacrificing anyone’s health to do the same. But fear not – this is a temporary closure – a “pause” if you will. They absolutely will reopen their restaurants and are just as anxious as everyone else to get the doors back open, the grills fired up, and to fill the dining rooms with the laughter and good times that seem to go hand in hand with all of their locations.
Yamas Mediterranean Street Food
624 W 4th St, Winston-Salem, NC
Open Daily from 11AM – 9PM
Closed during manitory Stay at Home Order