The wooden food price list with the prices in drachmas, the photos with personalities from Greece and abroad and the dozens of souvenirs on the walls, testify to the long history of the restaurant “of the Islands” which is forty years old. In a month the “end titles” fall.
Countless memories and flavors in the mind of the 74-year-old, now owner Giannis Alexiou, who from the first moment until today is in the kitchen and cooks for the fanatical guests. Many celebrities frequented here – actors, politicians, athletes, singers, but also friends, tourists, people from the neighborhood were enchanted by his dishes.
«It is not a few 40 years in the same job with the kitchen being your second homeHe says, speaking to ΑΠΕ- ΜΠΕ. From 1981, when he and his wife opened the shop and put the first dishes on the table, he never left the “fold” of the kitchen. Almost half a century later, it was time to hang the apron. “We grew up and we need breaths.”
“In the kitchen, when I was cooking, I was transformed. I became one with food all these years and every moment. Today, I feel a sweet melancholy. It is a circle that closes, a whole life. So many years in our restaurant, I have clients for three generations. I caught up with the grandparents, the children and both as clients and their grandchildren».
“Parade” of celebrities and Hollywood stars from the restaurant
Mr. Alexiou graduated in 1971 from the School of Tourism Professions and worked in many hotel units until, having many years of experience, he decided to open his own restaurant.
The doors of the “Islands” opened at 13 Proxenou Koromilas Street and from the first day the store was crowded. “It quickly became a hangout. It has become a place of interest in the city, a gastronomic destination from where famous Greeks and many Hollywood stars passed and traveled with its flavors “, writes APE.
“Aliki Vougiouklaki loved our snacks and seafood. Almost every time he came to Thessaloniki, he passed by the store for food. He enjoyed our food. In fact, shortly before he passed away, he called me and asked me for boiled potatoes. “He told me, only you make them the way I like them.”
Melina Mercouri was also a frequent customer and the two of them had a discussion about politics and food. Marinela, politicians and athletes such as Galis and Giannakis often had lunch in the “Islands” of Consul Koromilas.
Even internationally renowned actors and directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci or our Theodoros Angelopoulos with Harvey Keitel, crossed the threshold of the restaurant, leaving handwritten dedications.
“When Catherine Deneuve came to our city for the Film Festival, she returned to our shop. He ate our fish soup and was “jealous” of a rib because he saw that they were eating it at a nearby table. I even remember that I gave it to her with my hand in her mouth and she had fun with her soul. Nicolas Cage wrote the best at the end of his meal and you think he ate me a lot. As for Calatrava, he was so impressed with our appetizers that he designed something exclusively for us in the book of impressions “, says Mr. Alexiou.
The owner of the “Islands” has a lot to remember. When the inseparable prevailed, they waited in numbers for a table and there were days, as he typically says, that were so crowded that “we bought hasty cutlery because we did not manage to wash them”.
Mr. Alexiou loves his kitchen and his principle was not to enter it and not to touch the pots and materials when he was in a bad mood. He would go for a walk, look at the sea and then start cooking. As it says, cooking wants a good mood and joy. “The mood is good on the plate, if you do not have it, it will be bad, if you cook with joy, it will be delicious.”
The store has never had a roof and has remained in the same place since 1981. All these years there have been two renovations. One in the style of folklore and in recent years the most modern, with shades of blue and white usually does not dominate.
In the last days of operation of the restaurant, the 74-year-old counts down and feels mixed joy with sadness. He is looking forward to spending relaxing family moments on his favorite island, Skopelos, away from the city.
Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ / Anastasia Telianidou
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