By 5 a.m. each day, a gyro cone is placed on the upright rotisserie grill inside of Derek’s. The meat roasts slowly until lunchtime when John Derek Mickalis slices it from the cone, wraps it in a warm pita bread and tops it with fresh vegetables, feta cheese and authentic tzatziki sauce.
The dish, pronounced “yee-ro,” is Mickalis’ speciality. People are loving it. Located at 500 North Cedar Street, on the side of Coastal Produce, his sandwich shop has been a hit since it opened in September. Meals are ordered from a take out window and picnic tables are arranged outside of the shop. Mickalis said most people order their food to go but as word spread about his menu, more customers began to dine on location. He added five more picnic tables to meet the demand.
“We’ve been building up a clientele- and it’s getting there,” Mickalis said.
He cooks everything in house. In addition to gyros, he makes a variety of sandwiches including french dip, three types of club, cuban, and fried oyster poboy served with tarter sauce, homemade slaw, hushpuppies, fries. His vegetable soup has been a favorite and popular desserts include baklava, banana pudding and brownies.
Mickalis said he strives to offer fresh food that is cooked just right and served in big portions.
He disagrees when people refer to him as “chef,” because he didn’t go to culinary school but he does proudly give himself the title of “local boy.” Mickalis was born in the former Dorchester County Hospital that sat directly across the street from his restaurant. His father, John Nick Mickalis, ran the family restaurant, Fox and Hounds, for 25 years.
“I’ve been cooking since I was a child,” Mickalis said. “I grew up cooking seafood, prime rib and steaks. That’s what I’m hoping to do (again) one day.”
Mickalis said he hopes to expand his menu and own a full scale restaurant eventually. He said after his father’s business closed, he climbed and cut trees for 16 years but his love for cooking and serving people never wavered. So he felt it was time to “bite the bullet,” and he committed to opening Derek’s.
“I wanted to get back to doing what I am comfortable doing,” Mickalis said. “I like seeing local people, I wanted to serve Summerville again. I’m at home here.”
Derek’s is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and sometimes on Sundays. To learn more, visit https://www.facebook.com/DEREKSGYRO/.