New York.- By Vicki J. Yiannias
After many months of careful preparation, the Atrium Café, located in the Atrium of the Olympic Towers in New York, will be open for service as of its planned “soft opening”, on Wednesday, July 27. Working in symphony with the month-old Atrium Express takeout cafe — already a great success — and the Hellenic Museums Shop, the Atrium Café provides an elegant Greek experience.
A Grand Opening is scheduled for late September or early October, but the Café’s “soft-opening” is a move to ensure that everything is in polished working order according to the high standards for food and service held by Sophia Doxiades, the manager of the Atrium express and Atrium Café.
With a pianist playing in the lobby on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12:00-2:00, comfortable high banquettes and luxe cherry-wood tables and chairs (luxe comfort will be also be provided by a heated floor in winter) and the bubbling of the Atrium water wall fountain, customers can luxuriate in a lingering café interlude to take the edge off the demands of the bustling city beyond.
Ms. Doxiadis has put great care and research into choosing superior food items and beverages, such as the best coffee available (Italian wood-roasted coffee that is ground fresh), and teas (In poetic style — teas with buds that open into flowers). The academy Atrium Café’s exquisite, authentic menu is so unlike any other in New York that it can substitute for a morning or afternoon in Greece. Examples: the Breakfast menu offers a “Proino”, breakfast basket served with butter, honey or jam, and Greek Country-Style Yogurt with Honey and Walnuts or Spoon Sweets to name just three choices; a “Savory” menu also with many choices, among them Spanakopita, Dolmadakia, and Dips; Salads, one even made with paximadi and anthotiro cheese; Pannini; many Greek Home-Style Desserts, like Galactoboureko and Baklava; and Pastries, Capuccino Cake.
“We’re hoping for this to be a cultural experience in that Greeks will enjoy the Greekness of it and that the Greek products will give a nice tasting to non-Greeks, so they’ll get acquainted with the real thing. And the nice thing is that it’s going to be easy; it’s not a restaurant, it’s a cafe, so people can come with their friends . . . have a coffee, have something. It’s a European mood, also in the way it’s structured, with Greek bronze serving trays and coffee urns, and elegant and delicious Greek foods that offer a taste of Greece. We have beautiful banquettes and a big screen showing cultural presentations including past exhibitions, and there will also be bookcases, a vitrine to display objects from the Hellenic Museums shop that are related to the exhibitions.” Lectures will still take place there said Ms. Doxiadis, as the Café furniture is designed so it can be removed for lectures.
Ambassador Loukas Tsilas, Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation (USA), told the Greek News that the Café is another aspect of the effort to create and maintain a very important and pronounced cultural ambience in the Atrium of the Olympic Towers. “We started with the cultural space that we have downstairs, and over the years we have moved some of our cultural activities to the Atrium, such as the New York City College Parthenon frieze casts, the opening of which was attended by the authorities of the city — successful — we had an exhibition by Stephen Antonakos, also successful, an exhibition of a collection of photographs by twelve Magnum photographers who documented Greece preparing for the Olympics, the Artemis tapestry exhibition . . . a series of noteworthy activities in the Atrium . . . and the Café is in that spirit. We’re hoping it will be a stop for people in mid-Manhattan for a taste of culture and a taste of Greek food.”
He also noted that “The idea of our senior management was to keep the Atrium available for cultural activities, but at the same time we wanted to turn it, whenever possible, into a cultural café, with, as Sophia said, a gentle, delicate Greek/Hellenic/European tone”. “Everyone will be welcome to come and have a nice time in connection with an activity.
I think the omogeneia — the Greek-Americans — will love to stop. There will be something to see, something to taste, at the same time. I can see a scenario in which people coming to our functions will come early to have a nice coffee, or a nice drink, before attending, and certainly, afterwards the Café will cede us its space and cater our receptions, I’m sure.”
Importantly, Ambassador Tsilas added “the idea is not only to address ourselves to the Greek-Americans, whom we love and for whose support we are grateful, but also to the American public. We like to open doors . . . 85% or more of our audiences have been the non-Greek, American public. There is a tradition here: we try to do everything in good taste and with attention to detail in terms of food, furniture, and everything else.”