Crisis fails to dampen Kolonaki entrepreneurs' enthusiasm - The Best from Greece

Follow bestfromgreece on Twitter

Posted on: 19/Apr/2012 The Best From Greece Culinair “The rent is lower, but that’s as far as it goes,”

Over the past year or so, I have fallen back in love with the upscale Athenian neighborhood of Kolonaki. Of course, if you love Athens you have to love Kolonaki as well, although a reputation over the past couple of decades for being a bit too shi-shi did act as a turnoff even though this is an integral part of the city’s fabric. But the snobby air is essential to Kolonaki’s mystique, and sometimes a bit of luxury can be fun.

I have fallen back in love with Kolonaki more recently though because now that it has been stripped of much of the frills of pretentious lifestyles, it has become a more modest version of itself. Like in most other parts of Athens, here too you will see empty shop windows of businesses that have been forced to close down because of the crisis, but if you pay close attention, you will see a few bursts of color that signify an emerging trend.

New shops are cropping up as they would at any other time, but they are doing so cautiously because the risks of opening a business today are far greater. What makes some of these new enterprises stand out is that they are fresh and concept-based; they have something different to offer.

For Aristotelis Panagiotaros, proprietor of The Dark Side of Chocolate, an atmospheric establishment at 49 Solonos Street, the concept was to create a home for his favorite foodstuff. There are no hearts and frills here; the ambience is somewhat mysterious, both in the seating area, where beverages and drinks are served, as well as in the retro decor and the packaging of the boxes of chocolates that are on sale.

“The rent is lower, but that’s as far as it goes,” Panagiotaros said of the benefits of the crisis. “It is a double-edged sword because people expect -- rightly so -- that everything should be cheap, but this cannot always be achieved if you want to offer high quality.”


On the corner of Kanari and Merlin streets, the window of Carpo catches your eye from a distance as it is brightly lit and the store is almost always teeming with patrons, but it storms your olfactory system as well, with the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans.

The main concept behind Carpo, however, is dried nuts, a business the owners have been in for 22 years which they eventually decided to streamline and simplify in order to reach their customers directly.

“We have been in the processing, packaging and sale of dried nuts for many years, so we decided to get in touch with the consumer directly by getting involved in retail,” said Costas Kontopoulos.

A drop in the rental rates in upmarket district prompted him to open shop in this busy part of the capital.

Cupcakes also seem to have taken Kolonaki by storm, as there are two new arrivals specializing in the sweet treats.

Emi’s Cupcakes is located at 7 Karneadou Street and a dollhouse seems to be the inspiration behind the decor and the food design. Close by, at 10 Kapsali, Philippe Cupcakes has gone for a more extroverted aesthetic approach.

Emi Bourikou of Emi’s Cupcakes believes that other than lower rent, the crisis will lead to Greek business proprietors working harder and getting better acquainted with their customers. “Finally the customer will have the upper hand, as has been the case abroad for years,” she told Kathimerini.


Back to the Culinair Overview

Greek Ferries

Flight from London (LCY) to Athens