Ertan Makara has found plenty of hungry customers for his Mediterranean-inspired fast food as a vendor at festivals and other special events the past 15 years, including the past eight Sandy Springs Festivals, but he never had a restaurant of his own, a place where people could grab a gyro or falafel for lunch or dinner any day.

That changed Aug. 29 when he opened Makara’s Mediterranean at the corner of Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads in Sandy Springs. Thanks to the city permitting process, it was a soft opening, with no exterior signs to announce that the former Church’s fried chicken shop was reborn as a place where you have a choice of lamb, chicken and beef to fill your pita, as well as hummus, stuffed grape leaves and other vegetarian options.

The simple menu starts with gyros and cheesesteaks for $5.50. The priciest item is a $10 combo plate, adding two sides to a sandwich.

The emphasis is on doing a few basic items right rather than offering lots of lower-quality options, manager Harun Erdem said.

Even without much more than a neon “open” sign in the window, Makara’s made a marked difference on the downtown corner. A black-and-white paint job has replaced the boarded-up yellow Church’s exterior, and the interior is bright, clean and inviting.

Erdem, who has worked with Makara for six years, said it took three months to get the restaurant ready to open, but that was nothing compared with the three years it took to find the right site for the restaurant. It’s the first of what the Norcross entrepreneurs hope will be many locations.

“We always got good feedback from the people in Sandy Springs,” Erdem said, so the city seemed to be the right place.

In addition to a complete renovation inside, Makara and Erdem have big plans for the exterior. A paved area facing Roswell Road will be set up for patio dining, allowing people to enjoy the fresh air with the fresh food.

— Michael Jacobs