ASTORIA – Zenon Taverna, one of the most beloved restaurants of the Greek Diaspora, closed on November 28 after 33 years of operation at 34-10 31st Avenue in Astoria, due in part to the difficulties of running a small business during the COVID pandemic.
The news saddened many in the Greek and Cypriot-American community, and not only, since the famous Cypriot cuisine of Zenon drew customers of all ethnicities, some of whom traveled to Astoria from various parts of the tri-state area just to taste the exquisite and unique delicacies of the taverna.
With a social media post that evoked memories and gratitude, the restaurant owners thanked the customers for all their support over the years.
“We want to start off by saying thank you. Thank you to our customers, our community, our family and our friends. With your support, our small taverna grew into so much more, a pillar of the community, a refuge for Cypriots young and old, a home away from home.
“For 33+ years our family has worked tirelessly bringing Cypriot and Greek cuisine to New York. We hope that we were able to bring our culture, our traditions and of course our delicious cuisine to your lives and hearts.
“It is with heavy hearts that we have decided the time has come to close our doors. Our final day of operation will be this Sunday, November 28. We don’t want this to be goodbye, but rather see you later. Astoria is our home and we hope to see you all again.
“With all of our gratitude and love, the Family of the tavern Zenon Taverna Family,” the post concluded, leaving a possible “open window” for a new project for the family.
Zenon was founded in 1988 by Stelios Papageorgiou, who, working hard, managed to gain the trust and appreciation of the public. Then, the reins of the restaurant passed, in essence, to his daughter, Elena and her husband, Harry Ioannidis.
As soon as the closing of Zenon was announced, a large number of customers rushed to the tavern during the weekend, in order to express their gratitude to the owners and to once again enjoy the specialties of the house. At the same time, community members posted in the comments on social media, sharing their memories of the taverna or from attending an event they had catered.
One local posted: “Absolutely gutted to hear this. I’ve celebrated so many special occasions here over the years. No one does proper mezedes like you guys do and there are so few Cypriot restaurants in the city. Thank you for feeding me, my family, and my friends so many times,” Patch reported.
Former City Council candidate Evie Hantzopoulos posted on Instagram: “@zenontaverna my heart is kind of breaking tonight as you close your doors after 33 years… There are plenty of restaurants in Astoria that serve good food, but I’ve never seen one so community-minded, with the most generous of hearts.”
In July, Harry Ioannidis spoke with NY1, noting that “the restaurant only had one waiter,” Patch reported. “I was on the grill, cooking, prepping, garbage, everything,” he told NY1, adding that “staff shortages kept the eatery operating at just 40 percent capacity even though they were allowed to fill up,” Patch reported.