CHICAGO, IL – With so many next generation individuals coming into their own within all the present day Greektown Chicago establishments, it is heat-warming to see so much drive and determination from each of them on keeping the Greek culture and traditions continuing. It’s been a tough year on everyone, but the Greektown restaurants and shops put on another successful festival, their 31st this past weekend. Enough can’t be said for all the Greektown staff, vendors, event management individuals, city officials and police officers!
Helen Paspalas and her family embody so many good hard working values within the Chicago Greek community. The Paspalas family originally from Messina have overseen the Athenian Candle Co. (www.atheniancandle.com) for over a 100 years now, providing religious items for Orthodox or non-Orthodox homes, books, jewelry and other Greek related gifts. In the back they still make their own candles old school style. Helen stated, “We’re an old world shop that meets the new world.” Her parents still come into the store regularly to help out, as do nieces and nephews.
Running into Constantinos Vitogiannis was another pleasant visit, learning about his family and their Mr. Greek Gyros restaurant in the heart of Greektown. For over fifty years, with Constantinos’ Papou starting a deli after coming to the United States from Tripoli, Mr. Greek Gyros has been a staple on Halsted Street. Constantinos and his two brothers all went to college, but all support their family’s business with so much motivation gained from their parents. Legacy and history are very important with this family.
The Artopolis Café was just recently purchased by George Reveliotis and Andre Papantoniou. For so many years, Artopolis has been the go to place for frappuccinos, baked goods and amazing desserts. Even purchasing the café in 2019 during the pandemic, both George and Andre stated, “We bought this establishment with all our hearts and souls, to continue the tradition!” Yanni Theoharis originally for Athens is the owner behind 9 Muses and the Mali Café. Once again, it is a family effort with these two locations. Yanni stated, “Yes, things have changed in and around our Greektown, but we are always evolving and being pro-active in making needed changes. We love our Greektown and my two sons are always there to help out.”
Andres Koumi who comes from Cyprus has owned the Spectrum Bar & Grill for over thirty years. His family is very involved with the restaurant throughout the year, including his daughter Irene who was taking orders all during the festival and who is very involved with the Greektown Chicago youth activities. Sister and brother Dalila and Eddy Youkhana are with the family behind Athena Greek Restaurant, a traditional Greek establishment with a very spacious setting and an outdoor patio making you feel as though you were in Greece. Dalila shared, “We’re always keeping with tradition, with making minor changes at times. Our family core has been to making a visit to Athena as though you were dining at home.”
Moreover, enough cannot be said about Tia Angelos, the Greektown Chicago’s Program Director for the last year and a half. Tia who’s family is from Lefkada and Tripoli is full of energy and who is the driving force behind all the events and activities within this historical district. There is now an annual Greektown Restaurant Week, youth activities throughout the year… Tia stated, “Philotimo runs through our Greektown street here in Chicago! It is so amazing to see so much honor and pride here with the new generations coming up!”
Please visit their website for more information and like and follow them on their social media pages – www.greektownchicago.org
Finally, the recent Greektown Chicago good news on the National Hellenic Museum (www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org) which has been temporary closed this past year due to the pandemic will be slated to reopen on September 26, 2021! Make sure if you visit Chicago soon, stop in their Greektown for great food and amazing stories!