Taverna 5450 Is a High Five for
By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
When husband and wife Nick and LaShay Kalathas decided to open a restaurant that paid homage to their heritage, like many couples facing major decisions, they had to compromise. That’s because Nick hailed from a big Greek family of restauranteurs, while LaShay wanted to stay true to her Irish roots.
“It was a blending of cultures,” says LaShay. “I kind of wanted an Irish pub, and he wanted a homestyle Greek restaurant. That merged into Taverna 5450, including the name, which is the Greek word for pub.”
A Venture with a View
February marked 10 years since the couple bought the restaurant, formerly known as The Four Seasons. Taverna 5450 references its address at 5450 Fairfield Road (Route 116) in Fairfield.
“We weren’t actively looking for a restaurant—it literally found us,” LaShay recalls. “The location was definitely a selling point—we’re blessed to be in the middle of this beautiful country location.”
Located at the foot of Liberty Mountain Resort, with sweeping views of the ski slopes, the restaurant was first discovered by Nick’s brother, who was scouting Adams County for available eateries. He secured C&D Bar & Grill in New Oxford, but he saw an opportunity for Nick and LaShay at 5450 Fairfield Road.
Nick, his brother, and their cousin all trained at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. You could say that the restaurant business is in their genes—Nick’s father founded Chambersburg’s Texas Lunch in 1967.
And the restaurant industry brought Nick, 44, and LaShay, 43, together. Chambersburg natives, they met while working at The Orchards, another one of Nick’s family’s restaurants. They wanted to create a similar experience at Taverna 5450—“casual but fine dining, with high-quality products, presentation, and consistency,” says LaShay. Not only did the couple relocate to Fairfield, they also gutted and rebuilt the entire restaurant interior—a process that LaShay remembers as a “scary” leap of faith.
Their risk appears to have paid off. Taverna 5450’s Tzatziki sauce, a traditional Greek garlic cucumber yogurt dip, is so good that it’s a standalone appetizer item served with garlic pita bread. Additional appetizers include Seared Ahi Tuna, accented with a spicy mayo; and the popular Taverna Crab Balls and Reuben Balls—fried, bite-size nibbles.
The extensive menu includes everything from flatbreads to salads, sandwiches to pasta and seafood, plus a children’s menu. There’s even a section of the menu devoted to fries, including Taverna 5450’s famous Crabby Fries featuring crabmeat, Old Bay seasoning, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Entrée standouts include tender Grilled Lamb Chops with Tzatziki and Blackened Pork Chops topped with a yummy mustard onion sauce. Sweet Potato Mash and Sticky Rice—made with milk and sugar—are sides that might steal the show.
Burgers are some of the most popular items, and LaShay believes it’s because they’re made with Certified Angus Beef (CAB). All of Taverna’s 5450’s steaks, fish, and other meats are cut fresh, in-house. Greens, micro-greens, potatoes, and additional produce items are grown by local farmers.
Be sure to save room for dessert, especially the traditional Greek baklava made by Nick’s mother, affectionately called Yia Yia, Greek for “grandmother.”
Mixing It Up
While Nick manages the kitchen and back-of-house, LaShay oversees the front-of-house. She’s honed her mixology skills for more than 20 years, beginning at corporate restaurants.
Her talents shine on the drinks menu. The smooth Maple Bourbon Old-Fashioned is concocted with smoked maple bourbon whiskey and organic pure maple syrup; her Winter Sangria is a rift on the summertime staple that incorporates wintry flavors like blackberry brandy, cranberries, pineapple, ginger, and cinnamon.
Desserts often inspire LaShay’s cocktails, such as the Double Chocolate Espresso Brownie Martini. If that sounds like a mouthwatering mouthful, trust us—it is.
Although she misses bartending and its social aspect—shut down by the pandemic—LaShay transitioned to creative concoctions to-go amid COVID-19. Called “pouchies,” her frozen, packaged alcoholic beverages have been a hit.
“They were one positive to come out of COVID,” says LaShay. “It was experimenting with my drinks and recipes and mass producing them for people to drink here or take home.”
The Kalathases used the state’s COVID-19 shutdown downtime to repaint the entire restaurant, gut and renovate the bathrooms, and refinish bar tables. They also added a fire pit to Taverna 5450’s large outdoor patio to take the chill off wintry al fresco dining.
“We caught up with things we don’t normally get to do,” LaShay says.
The couple, married for 12 years, is enjoying more time with their five children—three daughters and two sons—since they’re not operating into the wee hours of the morning.
What’s the secret to balancing family life and a successful restaurant?
“The restaurant industry is not for the faint of heart, but it’s not really a job if you love what you do,” says LaShay. “And we bring that into our family life as well. We love our God, then our family, then our restaurant—and when you have so much heart for those things, they tend to automatically excel.
“I also have to thank the local community for their support,” she says. “Locals and visitors alike—we wouldn’t be here without them.”
5450 Fairfield Road, Fairfield