Keeping it low key might actually be the key to the success of Michael’s Eatery. Nestled in the heart of downtown Ajax’s business district in an unassuming plaza, this cozy all-day breakfast joint is so much more than bacon and eggs.
Christina Nikoviotis’ family purchased the restaurant from Michael, the restaurant’s namesake, back in 2006, and the fact that Christina’s father is also named Michael may or may not have made the decision to buy even easier.
“We’d just moved back (to Canada) from Greece,” she explains, and taking it over was a great opportunity because it needed a lot of love. The family worked hard to improve the business and honour Michael’s legacy of a small, family-run diner, offering quality breakfast staples while maintaining its roots in classic Greek cuisine.
Today, Christina’s family continues the tradition of a family-run business, and it doesn’t end there, the staff have become part of the family as well.
“Our staff have been here for years,” Christina says. “Everyone here is family, they’re phenomenal.” It’s obvious from the pride in Christina’s voice and the countless online reviews, that the warm, friendly service is a big part of why Michael’s Eatery has done so well since Christina’s family took it over—mostly with just word-of-mouth marketing.
Christina says that when COVID-19 hit, they didn’t lay anybody off. “We made a conscious decision to work together as a family to make it work,” she says. Times were tough, but they came through together. “I couldn’t ask for better staff,” she says again.
And it’s not just staff that’s family; regular customers and the whole community are a vital part of the picture, as well. In pre-pandemic times, Michael’s Eatery was always a proud sponsor of youth basketball and hockey in Ajax, and Christina looks forward to doing so again once things start to pick back up.
Michael’s Eatery is located in a neighbourhood that is home to a lot of seniors. Christina and her team will often reach out to the area’s organizations and to individual neighbours to offer help when and however they can.
Coming into the restaurant for the first time on a very busy Saturday, it was easy to see that most of the customers were regulars who felt right at home lingering at the counter and chatting with the servers as they came and went. With a lot of regulars, Christina says, the staff already know where they’d like to sit and what they want to order.
Speaking of ordering, the freshly prepared food at Michael’s Eatery is second to none!
“Everything is made from scratch,” Christina explains. “Even the dressing we put on the salad!”
On this particular Saturday, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we even had the option of our home fries being pan fried or deep fried. The attention to detail and personal touches speak volumes to the care that Michael’s Eatery puts into every aspect of the business.
I love a Mediterranean omelette myself, and I was over the moon with this one—perfect ratios of tomato, onion, spinach, and feta cheese served up with rye toast and pan-fried home fries. I was in heaven. My partner’s fried egg sandwich on rye (with cheese, of course) paired perfectly with his shredded mozzarella poutine. I can’t wait to come back to try their Greek specialty dishes like chicken souvlaki and gyros, or other staples like the New York sirloin steak dinner, pan-fried fillet of sole, or a good old fashioned homemade burger.
“It’s not fast food,” Christina stresses. “We put a lot of work into it.”
In addition to the fairly new Facebook page run with the help of Christina’s oldest child, Michael’s Eatery recently made the foray into working with food delivery services too. As always, customers are welcome to pick up their takeout orders, but now local diners can also take advantage of delivery from both Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes.
If you are even remotely in the area, Michael’s Eatery is worth the trip—or the delivery service! Whether you prefer classic breakfast fare or Greek specialties, you will be more than satisfied with the love and care that goes into each and every dish that this hidden gem has to offer.
44 Commercial Ave.
NOTE: At the time of publishing, Durham Region and the Province of Ontario are in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Reopen with modifications; the Province’s three-step plan to safely and gradually lift public health measures, based on improvements of key public health and health care indicators. We continue to publish these stories to encourage you to explore these businesses and communities online and through social media. When possible, please order for safe curbside pick-up if offered, and prepare to explore these areas once they are able to safely reopen.