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Faulkner 100: Family-owned Taziki’s is fast, casual and fresh

Posted: July 16, 2014 - 8:33am

What would people be surprised to hear about Taziki’s Mediterranean Café? To describe that, let’s start with the obvious. One visit to Taziki’s and people recognize a dedication to using the freshest ingredients and creative recipes to serve meals that are not only healthy but also hearty and delicious. But where did that dedication come from? 

Taziki’s is family-owned and operated by the “Keet Boys,” father Jim and sons Tommy and Jake, as JTJ Restaurants. In 2008 they realized a long-held dream of starting a business together with the opening of Taziki’s in Little Rock. Tommy Keet was a lawyer for Windstream Corp., and Jake Keet had recently graduated from Florida State University. There was never any doubt about the kind of business they wanted — it had to be a restaurant. 

The restaurant business provides the family with a perfect opportunity to blend their business experience and passion for serving. Drawing on Jim Keet’s years of experience in the food industry, including bringing the first Wendy’s franchises to Arkansas, the Keets set out to find something special. They wanted something new where they could give their customers really great food; a fun, friendly atmosphere; fast service; and an affordable price. They liked the idea of the “fast-casual” restaurant trend because it offers higher quality meals than fast food restaurants at a more affordable price than full-service dining.

According to Tommy Keet, there were many choices to consider.

“We looked at everything out there,” Tommy said. “Then we discovered Taziki’s in Alabama. That was it for us. We fell in love with the freshness and the Mediterranean influence of the food and that everything was made from scratch using original recipes. This was something we knew we would feel good about bringing home to Arkansas, especially because it provides a healthier option than what is generally available.”

The Keets negotiated the first and only license to open new Taziki’s locations and dedicated themselves to growing a chain of outstanding restaurants. From personally selecting each location, designing the buildings, selecting just the right friendly, service-oriented staff, conducting training and daily preparation of Taziki’s menu, the Keets have succeeded in opening five thriving locations. 

Arkansans can now enjoy a healthy, delicious Mediterranean-inspired meal and custom catering in Little Rock, Conway, Fayetteville and Bentonville, with more on the way, including an expected opening later this year at McCain Mall in North Little Rock.

Judging from the accolades, including being voted Best New, Best Greek, Best Patio Dining and Best Casual Restaurant, the Keets’ dedication has paid off. Most meaningful to the Keets is that they have succeeded as a family in bringing something of value to Arkansas.

Jake Keet said, “I look forward to going to work every single day. There’s nothing better than seeing people have fun and relax over a delicious meal. I’m happy I get to do this with Tommy and my dad.”

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