It all began when a pair of friends shared drinks together in Greece.
“Cheers!” one said.
“Salut,” the other replied.
And the idea for a new East Valley restaurant concept was born, said Anastasios “Taso” Tirkas, owner of Salut Kitchen Bar in Tempe. The restaurant celebrates its grand opening Wednesday, April 24.
Reclaimed pallets decorate the bar and handmade tables and benches line the walls, giving the hip new establishment a decidedly rustic feel. Thanks to Tirkas’ Ciprian heritage, the menu is anything but provincial and includes options like hummus nachos, prosciutto wrapped melon, “brie-hive” panini, and pistachio crusted salmon. Prices range between $5-$20, with most items hovering around the $10 price point.
“Salut is an eclectic concept with dashes of Mediterranean influence,” Tirkas said in a statement. “It has a trendy European vibe while meeting all the desires of the local community.”
Tirkas said the concept for Salut has been in the works for over a year. It finally came to fruition when he found the “perfect” location on University Drive, west of McClintock Road.
Just outside the bounds of ASU and directly across the street from the Ocotillo Power Plant, the locale personifies the two worlds Tirkas and his business partners are trying to reach. They felt there weren’t many options for young Tempe professionals between the ages of 25 to 45 or elegant, affordable eateries for ASU students weary of the Mill Avenue bar scene.
“Lots of kids have to travel to Scottsdale to go on a nice date,” Tirkas said. “My whole thing is trying to serve the $10 ASU market and the (young) professional market.”
Salut’s diverse wine and liquor options play into that, said in-house sommelier Dustin Cassidy. In addition to a wine menu with 20 wines available by the glass, 70 bottles to choose from in the wine cellar and 3 wines on tap, Salut also offers a range of liqueurs, cocktails, and aperitifs, in addition to a selection of craft bourbons.
Cassidy was particularly proud of the restaurant’s absinthe program. Though not common in the United States, absinthe — a herbaceous spirit with high alcoholic content — is very popular in Europe, said Cassidy, who feels Arizona’s trendy food scene is ripe for this international import.
“It’s got a lot of essential oils and is a stimulant not a depressant,” he said. “There’s an allure to absinthe and nobody is really doing it here.”
Salut currently serves five different types of absinthe and plans to eventually serve eight.
If that doesn’t pique your interest, you can still stop by Salut in the morning for a cup of espresso, Irish coffee, or a mimosa. The restaurant opens at 10 a.m. and offers a full espresso bar, wi-fi and plenty of USB ports for portable devices.
“Everyone asks me what a kitchen bar is and I would say ‘no explanation, just good feelings and good wine,’” Tirkas said in a release. “We’re hoping to create the comfort that friends and families have when gathering in their kitchen at home.”
He hopes Salut diners leave with a smile on their face.
IF YOU GO
What: Salut Kitchen Bar grand opening
When: 10 a.m. to midnight, Wednesday, April 24
Where: 1435 E. University Dr. Suite 12, Tempe
Cost: Menu items range from $5-$19.
Information: (480) 361-4490 or
Contact writer: (480) 898-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org