ASTORIA – Elpida Vasiliadis is best known as the Souvlaki Lady but she never chose the name, she told the New York Times, “I never named my business. Everybody has always called me the Souvlaki Lady, and it stuck.”
For 28 years and counting, at the corner of 33rd Street and Ditmars Boulevard, Vasiliadis has been operating the food truck that draws long lines of customers each day to enjoy the authentic Greek flavors.
When she purchased the food truck from the previous owner, it was the only food truck in the area. Living just a block away, Vasiliadis could work and check in on her children as well, the Times reported.
Among the regular customers, Anthony Graciolett lines up and orders a hot dog with sauerkraut, eats it, then lines up again to order another hot dog, this time with mustard and onions, followed by another trip to the back of the line to order a pork souvlaki on the stick, and then back on the line for a chicken souvlaki on the stick to conclude his meal. He repeats the routine twice a week.
“I like a routine,” he told the Times, “I always order the same thing in the same order.”
The Greek recipes have been passed down to Vasiliadis from her parents who had a restaurant called Psilokastro in Thessaloniki. The pork souvlaki is “authentic Greek, the best in Astoria,” Stratos Efstathiadis from Thessaloniki told the Times.
Despite the fact that the line was so long that Vasiliadis never took a break, she told the Times that it was a relatively quiet day compared to days when the line stretches halfway down the block.
For many neighborhood families, visiting the Souvlaki Lady is a family tradition. In short, Nicole Szarka arrived at the food truck with her newborn daughter, Brailey, and her mother, Marie Galanos.
“The Souvlaki Lady is part of the neighborhood,” Szarka told the Times, adding that “it is the only food cart I trust with the meat.”
The Souvlaki Lady food truck is open daily, except Sundays, from 11:30 AM-7:30 PM and on Fridays, Vasiliadis’ daughter, Eleni, works the food truck, the Times reported.