WASHINGTON, DC – Kostas Fostieris is not only a good restaurateur and chef, but also a true Greek patriot. His restaurant, Greek Deli, located a few blocks from the White House, is popular among the Greek community, students, and all lovers of Greek and Mediterranean gastronomy.
Fostieris’ story has many common features with the stories of thousands of other Greek immigrants who left the homeland, are now living the American dream and making the Greek community proud.
Fostieris was born into a large family in the Syndri, Andros. His parents of Antonios and Angeliki, of the Gounaris family, brought five children into the world, three boys and two girls, and Kostas was the youngest.
At the age of 16, he left the island for the School of Engineering in Piraeus and, at the age of 20, he became a sailor. After graduation, he served on the Themistocles, an anti-torpedo ship, for two and a half years.
On one of his visits to Piraeus, he met 18-year-old Irene Marmaras, who was on vacation, and happened to be visiting his aunt’s house. Her parents came from the same village on Andros and had their own restaurants in Maryland.
They fell in love and after six months they married at Nikaia. They came to America and Fostieris initially worked at his father-in-law’s restaurant and thirty years ago he bought his own restaurant.
Kostas and Irene Fostieris have two daughters Angeliki and Maria and six grandchildren Elina, Konstantina, Konstantinos, Riana, Elias, and Alexandros.
Greek Deli, frequented by Secret Service agents and workers in downtown Washington, is located at 1120 19th Street NW and is open Monday–Friday, 7 AM- 4 PM.
Most of the dishes and sweets on the menu are Greek. In fact, Fostieris and his wife Irene explain to customers the recipes and the tradition accompanying each meal.
Recently, he added the lemon pork to the menu under the name “Macedonian Style” and received a great deal of praise. A few days later, however, a man of Croatian origin said the name should be Skopian-style pork.
Fostieris, though aware of his customer’s implications, began to explain to him that the lemon pork is Macedonian style and is one of Macedonia’s most famous foods.
“The recipe is Macedonian, as is Macedonia, and this name is non-negotiable,” Fostieris replied, ignoring the cost of this answer. The customer, when he saw that the restaurateur was not on his side, left for the first time empty-handed.
Kostas Fostieris, owner and chef at Greek Deli in Washington, DC. Photo: Courtesy of Kostas Fostieris
“We should not discount our national affairs. I deliberately added ‘Macedonian Style’ to kick-start the dialogue and remind everyone that for us the Greeks are the name of the expatriates and that we are determined to give our own fight even if we lose some customers,” Fostieris said.
One wall at the restaurant displays the menu and the many articles in the American press about Greek Deli and Fostieris.
Last week, the website dc.eater.com published a highly flattering article about Fostieris, the chef and owner of the restaurant, and noted he has “keptdowntown’s time-crunched workers well fed for nearly 30 years.”
Indeed, the article pointed out that his reputation is so great when one day then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s motorcade passed by the restaurant, the Secret Service agents- regular customers at Greek Deli, who accompanied the President called out, “Kostas, Kostas,” leaving everyone amazed.
More information about Greek Deli is available online at: https://greekdelidc.com.