Listen to your customers. That’s how restaurateur John Zoulis perfected the iconic crab cakes at G&M Restaurant.

Though the Linthicum Heights eatery already served the signature dish when Zoulis and a partner purchased G&M in 1993, “We had to improve it,” he said. He’d ask diners: “Are they too spicy? Too salty?”

Today, G&M is one of the area’s most popular places to find Maryland’s favorite staple, up in the crab cake hall of fame along with Faidley’s and Pappas.

And now locals have another place to buy a similar crab cake, if not the exact one: Estiatorio Plaka Greek Restaurant & Bakery, which Zoulis opened last year on Eastern Avenue in Greektown.

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While Greek specialties form the foundation of the menu, the restaurant also serves softball-sized crab cakes like the ones at G&M Restaurant. They’re currently available on Plaka’s takeout menu as crab balls, crab cake sandwiches, or single or double crab cake entrees. “We have a lot of demand for it,” Zoulis said.

The mixed grill pikilia at Estiatorio Plaka, which opened last year in Baltimore’s historic Greektown. (Christina Tkacik)

Zoulis had more than crab cakes — or moussaka, for that matter — on his mind when he opened Plaka in 2023. The restaurateur and developer behind Zoulis Properties hoped that the upscale Hellenic restaurant, in the former Acropolis location, would be the “spark that would generate a domino effect for other people to come in and open other Greek-owned businesses” in the longtime Greek enclave, which is now home to an increasing number of Latino-owned restaurants. Plaka’s launch was attended by local politicians including Sen. Ben Cardin and Congressman John Sarbanes.

Since Plaka opened, though, another one of the neighborhood’s last remaining Greek-owned eateries has shut its doors.

Ikaros Restaurant, which first launched in 1969 and became an area institution, has quietly stopped serving customers. A tattered “closed today” sign hangs in the window. Ikaros owner Xenophon Kohilas did not respond to a message requesting comment.

Zoulis called the closing of Ikaros sad, saying, “We need every Greek door open here in order to achieve what we’re trying to do in Greektown.”

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Correction: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Xenophon Kohilas’ name and to clarify that the crab cakes sold at Estiatorio Plaka are different from the ones sold at G&M Restaurant.

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