Today we chat with Michael Garcia, the General Manager for Taverna Agora Kitchen & Bar in downtown Raleigh.
This Q&A is a part of our series called interviews with locals where we interview local Raleigh business owners and entrepreneurs to share their story with our community.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Brooklyn, NY. I went to military high school in New Jersey and college in Salisbury, MD. I have worked in the restaurant industry since college and have lived in Raleigh for 9 months. I moved here for the opportunity to work with LM Restaurants and Taverna Agora.
How did you get into the industry you are in now?
I have been in the industry since college. I love working with people, and I got into management pretty quickly. Loved it right away.
Give us your 30 second elevator pitch for your business?
I am the General Manager for Taverna Agora, the best restaurant in downtown Raleigh for authentic Greek food and beautiful rooftop seating.
Most popular dish at your restaurant?
Our chicken kabobs are our most popular dish.
Your favorite dish or drink at your restaurant?
My favorite dish is our Greek Sangria. Its not overly sweet, has a fine citrus balance, and is a very refreshing drink for these warm days in Raleigh.
What would a traveler learn about Raleigh by coming to your restaurant?
A traveler would learn how great Greek food tastes, how beautiful Taverna Agora is, and how friendly and accommodating the people of Raleigh are.
If you had a friend visiting from out of town, where in Raleigh would you take them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
I am old school, so I like to make breakfast. I enjoy bacon, toast, and scrambled eggs with a little bit of shredded cheese.
If you wanted to go out for breakfast, Tupelo Honey is good. Taverna serves up Sunday brunch as well!
For lunch, I would take them to Taverna’s rooftop with saganaki to start, shrimp kebobs as the main dish, and finish with our house made baklava.
For dinner, I would take them to Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen for some good southern flavors!
Best thing about living in Raleigh?
My favorite thing about living in Raleigh is the mild winters and friendly people.
Least favorite thing about living in Raleigh?
The heat and humidity in the summer is brutal!
Can’t miss experience/attraction in Raleigh for an out-of-town visitor?
Other than Taverna, we have grandchildren and love to go to Pullen Park. We will feed the ducks and go on the train and merry-go-round.
Your favorite business in Raleigh that you like to frequent?
The Publix grocery store actually. Their employees are extremely friendly and helpful.
What excites you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?
The growth opportunities in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years will be monumental. There are new companies coming in and construction everywhere. It’s very exciting!
What concerns you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?
I hope Raleigh doesn’t lose that “homey” feel as it expands. People in North Carolina are so friendly and polite, and I hope that stays.
Which local Raleigh entrepreneur inspires you to do better?
I’m still new to the area, so I don’t know too many people. I would say Lou Moshakos, owner of LM Restaurants, currently inspires me. He brought his vision of Taverna Agora to life, and I’m honored to be trusted to grow his vision.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in Raleigh?
I would say work ethic and be authentic. If you’re passionate about it, it will all work out!
What is your favorite thing about running your business?
Our staff. They word hard, and they care so much.
Drink of choice? Where in Raleigh do you get it?
After Taverna’s sangria, I enjoy the beers at Vicious Fishes Brewery.
Favorite getaway spot in North Carolina?
Anywhere I can get away with my wife is my favorite. North Carolina gives you mountains and the beach, so we are very lucky.
When you hear the words “THIS IS RALEIGH” what comes to mind?
Go say hi to Michael and tell him This Is Raleigh sent you: