October 4, 2007


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Tradition on the menu
Salona celebrates five years, waitress celebrates 12
By Lisa Brown news@hippopress.com

For years, many people in Manchester’s South Side who love a cold beer, great conversation, good food and a warm welcome have gone to Salona Restaurant, 128 Maple St. The atmosphere is non fussy and totally friendly, especially when Merle is there.

“She makes Salona because she’s part of the fixtures,” said owner Stacey Zisis, who has lived in Manchester for more than 30 years and bought Salona five years ago. With the restaurant came its most valuable asset, Merle Woitkowski, a waitress who served in restaurants across Manchester for more than 50 years, the last 12 of them at Salona. Before Salona, Woitkowski worked for 14 years at Mr. Steak on Elm Street before that went out of business.

“I got my first job when I was 16 years old, at the Puritan on Elm Street, I took time off to have my five children and went away for a while and came back,” said Merle Woitkowski, Salona’s longest-serving waitress.

“Right now her hair is normal, she is known for her bright red, red clown-like red hair ... I would say 50 percent of Manchester knows her because she’s been in the business for so long,” Zisis said.

Zisis and her family run Salona Restaurant and Lounge, a Manchester landmark of sorts. Her brother Angelo helps out when he can (he used to own Lake Avenue Pizza) and her sister Emily pitches in as well as other family members including niece Stacey Burley. Because the Zisis family is Greek (they all moved to Manchester from Greece more than 30 years ago), you’ll find a few Greek dishes on the regular menu, including barbecue lamb skewers, international chicken, topped with feta and spinach, and gyros. Each night of the week there’s a different special, maybe a classic Greek dish such as pastichio, spanakopita or dolmathes, or savory homemade American chop suey. On Friday afternoons, the fish special for lunch is a crowd-pleaser.

“We give you a choice of haddock, scallops, shrimp or clams for $8.95, and it’s all fresh seafood,” Zisis said. “It is good stuff.”

Zisis plans to celebrate her fifth anniversary owning the restaurant during the last week in October with a few customer appreciation specials including free appetizers with dinner. It’s the customers who have made the hard work of running a restaurant rewarding, said Zisis.

“We have a lot of older clientele that come in, especially to the dining room, and I love it, I love sitting and talking to people,” Zisis said. “I think I know about 80 percent of my clientele, like I know them, I go and meet them and talk to them.”

The menu at Salona features more than 20 different kinds of pizza and calzones, grinders, subs, club sandwiches and full dinners including steak, chicken, seafood, surf and turf and seven varieties of pasta. All dinners, which average between $9.95 and $17.95, are served with a choice of potato or rice and soup or salad. Soups are all homemade, including the seafood chowder, which is served on Fridays. For people who have difficulty making decisions, there’s always Merle, who will help out.

“People often say to me, ‘What is your favorite?’ and I say, ‘The steak tips,’ they are to die for,” Woitkowski said. “The steak tip dinner, steak tip sub and steak tip salad, they are all wonderful, our salads are fresh and very large.”

“She is like your grandmother, she’s just very friendly, very loving and is there to cater to you, because that is what you are paying for,” Zisis said. “You know a lot of people go to work and they just do their job because it’s their job. She [Woitkowski] appreciates the people that come in and they are paying for her service and she provides that service very very well.”

9/27/2007 Meet your pig

9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki — a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch