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Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Serving Up a Greek Freak Feast in Milwaukee

Chicago-based Avli has opened a location in America’s Dairyland and partnering with the NBA star known as the Greek Freak

Greece v Italy: Group C - FIBA EuroBasket 2022
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a part-owner in the new Avli location in Milwaukee.
Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The pita crumbs were hiding in plain sight.

In August 2022, NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, the charismatic Greek national who brought the Milwaukee Bucks a championship in 2021, fielded a question about perhaps switching teams and playing for the Chicago Bulls.

“I think anybody you ask that question that plays basketball if he said no, he would be a liar,” Antetokounmpo told media at the press conference. “It’s [(the Bulls]) a team that won multiple championships. It’s a team that one of the greatest players — if not the greatest player — to ever play this game played for. So it’s a no-brainer. Everybody would love to play for Chicago.”

The reporter who asked him that loaded question, meant to send shivers down the spines of Milwaukee fans while giving Chicago fans a rare dose of hope, was Lou Canellis.

Canellis is a veteran Chicago sports broadcaster who covered the Bulls during the ’90s when they won six titles thanks to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. He also happens to be co-owner of Avli, a Greek restaurant chain located in Lincoln Park, River North, and Lake Shore East. The first opened in 2009 in suburban Winnetka. Restaurant chef Louie Alexakis is passionate about presenting Greek food in a modern setting. For him, Greek cuisine about more than gyros — at Avli the signature dish is Kataifi prawns with shredded filo and spicy aioli. Antetokounmpo is a regular customer at the Chicago locations of Avli when the Bucks are visiting the United Center.

So when Canellis and Alexakis announced the opening of a new Avli in Milwaukee, unsurprisingly the player known as “Greek Freak” was part of the action — this time as a part-owner in the restaurant that debuted this week in Milwaukee’s Brewer’s Hill neighborhood.

“The Avli Milwaukee team is thrilled and proud to confirm that the group has been working with Giannis Antentetokounmpo and his agents Alex Saratsis and Giorgos Panou on this restaurant, which resulted in Giannis, Alex, and Giorgos all becoming partners in Avli’s Milwaukee restaurant,” a statement from Avli reads. “Everyone is excited to be a part of the neighborhood and welcome guests in for delicious Greek food, a lively atmosphere, and warm hospitality.”

Antentetokounmpo, who could be a free agent in 2025, is passion for foods from all over the world and in the past has drawn attention for celebrating a 2021 Bucks championship win with 50 pieces of chicken from a Chick-fil-A drive-thru. The antics inspired former Chicago Sky star Candace Parker to make a championship drive-thru order of her own at Portillo’s in 2021 after taking the WNBA title.

Like Jordan, whose name graces a line of restaurants, Antentetokounmpo joins a club of NBA players, past and present — like LeBron James with Blaze Pizza and Shaquille O’Neal with Big Chicken — who are investors in restaurants.

United Center

1901 West Madison Street, , IL 60612