Louie Alexakis is the current Chef/Owner of Avli Estiatorio, located in Winnetka, IL. Alexakis grew up in the food business—his family started in the early 1900s in Chicago with the Athenian Cafe in 1915. He learned the management side of the food business working for his mother and father, who owned a chain of concession stands in the Chicago Park District for over 50 years.
In 1989, he opened his first restaurant in the acclaimed China Club nightclub in Chicago. He was hired as an assistant manager of the nation's busiest Greek restaurant, Greek Islands in 1993. Alexakis left Greek Islands two years later to open Ouzeri, Chicago's first Greek tapas restaurant, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. There, working with staff that had experience from some of Chicago's best restaurants, Alexakis proceeded to get more creative with Greek cuisine.
He returned as the general manager of Greek Islands from 2000 to 2007. In 2008, while attending a seminar on Mediterranean cooking at the Culinary Institute of America, Alexakis met Diane Kochilas with whom he shared his vision of offering creative and regional Greek cuisine in Chicago. The realization of this vision, Avli Estiatorio, opened in 2009 and was named one of the best new restaurants by North Shore magazine, has won three awards of excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, and has been featured and reviewed in numerous publications such as the Chicago Sun-Times, Sheridan Road magazine, and New Trier magazine. Recently, the restaurant had its recipes featured in Plate magazine, a national chef's publication and on "The Hungry Hound," ABC 7 Chicago's food and restaurant show hosted by Steve Dolinsky.