West Town Eatery & Express transitions to The Grill at Shattalon | Dining

There has been a changing of the guard at a longtime popular eatery on the north side of town.

West Town Eatery & Express closed May 5 at 5584 Shattalon Drive, and the Grill at Shattalon opened there May 9 with new owners.

It was a smooth transition, with both former and new owners on hand to keep things running smoothly.

The Grill at Shattalon

The Grill at Shattalon co-owner Chris Sostaita talks with Christopher Deaner during lunch.

The good news for longtime customers is that not a lot is changing. West Town’s staff is staying on, as are a lot of the sandwiches and entrees from the daily hot bar.

And West Town’s sister business — West Town Restaurant at 4371 Styers Ferry Road — will remain as it has been.

Peter J. Strates opened West Town Eatery & Express in 1997. (Some folks may remember the building used to house Dixie Pig BBQ long before that — a business that Strates’ father, John, owned for a while.)

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Both West Towns have the same ownership: Strates, his cousin Peter C. Strates and brother-in-law Tsingas Apostolis. But Peter J. Strates, 51, has always been in charge of daily operations at the West Town Eatery & Express. He said he decided to sell for personal reasons, and he isn’t necessarily retiring. “I call this a ‘pause,’” he said. “I want to step back and focus on my family for a while.”

The Grill at Shattalon

Country-style steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and pintos from The Grill at Shattalon. 

He will continue to have a share in the Styers Ferry location, which Apostolis manages.

When the partners decided to sell the Shattalon business, Strates approached Chris and Jessica Sostaita.

The Sostaitas are in their late 30s but have been married 18 years. Chris Sostaita grew up in the restaurant business. His father used to own Jimmy the Greek’s on Trenwest Drive.

The Grill at Shattalon

The Grill at Shattalon offers daily specials.

They have run Old Richmond Grill for about 10 years but don’t know how much longer they might be able to keep it — at least at that location. The Arney family owns the business in a trust, and the state owns the building and the land — in anticipation of one day running part of the Northern Beltway through the property. “We were told we’d have a 90-day notice, but we haven’t gotten that notice yet,” Chris Sostaita said.

Strates heard that the Sostaitas had been looking for another restaurant.

“A lot of my customers eat with Chris in the morning and with me in the afternoon,” Strates said. “I didn’t know him, but I had heard a lot of great things about him. And I had heard that he was going to be without a restaurant with the highway coming through,” he said.

The Grill at Shattalon

Some of the desserts available at The Grill at Shattalon. Selections include apple, pecan and chocolate pie, cheesecake and a variety of traditional cakes.

So Strates paid the Sostaitas a visit. “We didn’t know who he was,” said Jessica Sostaita. “But he came in and said, ‘Hey, are you interested in buying a restaurant?’”

That was about four weeks ago.

“We hit it off,” Strates said. “Chris and I have the same work ethic.”

The change happened so fast that the Sostaitas still hadn’t changed all the signage on opening day. But that shared work ethic and a commitment to familiar American comfort food at reasonable prices will go a long way to making the transition smooth for customers.

The Grill at Shattalon

West Town Eatery & Express at 5584 Shattalon Drive has closed after 25 years. Jessica and Chris Sostaita, operators of Old Richmond Grill, have bought the business for a second location, calling it The Grill at Shattalon.

The biggest change will be the hours. West Town was open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. The Grill is open the same days but for breakfast and lunch.

Breakfast, served all day, includes omelets, waffles, biscuits and sandwiches.

The house special ($8.10) is three eggs with choice of liver pudding, sausage or bacon; grits or hash browns; toast or biscuit; and one piece of French toast or a pancake.

The Grill at Shattalon

Peter J. Strates (left) was owner of West Town Eatery & Express at 5584 Shattalon Drive for 25 years. Jessica and Chris Sostaita, operators of Old Richmond Grill, have bought the business for a second location, calling it The Grill at Shattalon and retained the West Town staff.

A three-egg cheese omelet is $6. A “super” omelet with ham, sausage, bacon, onion, green pepper, mushroom and cheese is $8.25.

The Grill at Shattalon

West Town Eatery at 5584 Shattalon Drive has closed after 25 years. Jessica and Chris Sostaita, operators of Old Richmond Grill, have bought the business for a second location, calling it The Grill at Shattalon.

There’s also a handful of breakfast sandwiches on toast or a bun ($4 to $4.90) with such meats as country ham, bologna, pork tenderloin or chicken (breaded and fried, or grilled).

Lunch includes burgers, BLT, chicken or pork souvlaki, quesadilla and catfish sandwich — starting at $3.10 for a hot dog and going up to $6.45 for a “cheeseburger club.”

The Grill at Shattalon

A take-out order of fried chicken livers and tater tots at The Grill at Shattalon. 

There are such subs as Philly cheesesteak ($7.60) and such wraps as Buffalo chicken ($7.95).

There also is hamburger steak, ribeye and chicken-tender platters and fried seafood. A catfish/shrimp combo goes for $11.25.

Like West Town before, there will be a daily hot bar with a couple daily specials plus a host of sides.

The Grill at Shattalon

The Grill at Shattalon offers daily specials at 5584 Shattalon Drive.

Monday’s specials are country-style steak and baked chicken. Wednesday’s are beef stew with rice and fried pork tenderloin with white gravy. Other specials include BBQ ribs, meatloaf and chicken pot pie.

The Sostaitas said they plan to keep some of West Town’s customer favorites, including broccoli casserole and fried flounder.

The Grill at Shattalon

A ham and cheese sandwich from The Grill at Shattalon.

On May 9, Steve Pearce, a longtime West Town customer, visited the Grill at Shattalon for the first time — and liked it. “I’ve never been able to get breakfast here before, and I’m a breakfast-all-day kind of guy, so that’ll be a good change,” he said.

Robin Shamel was able to order the chicken souvlaki she has enjoyed at West Town many times before. “And it tastes just as good,” she said.

Christopher Deaner had never been in the building before — but he’s a regular of Old Richmond Grill. “I know Chris, so I was just coming out to support him,” he said as he ate a chicken wrap.

The Sostaitas plan to keep running Old Richmond as long as they can. Jessica is quitting her dental-office job to devote herself full time to the restaurant business. She said the plan is for Chris to work at the Grill at Shattalon while she manages the Old Richmond Grill.

For now, they are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to worry about getting thrown out of business with a 90-day notice. And — a not-so-small bonus — the Sostaitas have realized their dream of owning their own restaurant.

But this is just the beginning.

“Eventually,” Jessica Sostaita said, “the plan is to have two restaurants.”

“The intention,” Chris Sostaita said, “is to eventually build a new Old Richmond Grill from the ground up.”