CULTURE

New course for a famous eatery

Memories of the distant past are being revived by the imposing early 20th-century seaside building that housed one of Thessaloniki’s most refined establishments during the greater part of the previous century, the Olympos-Naoussa restaurant. Until recently, the building stood neglected for close to a decade, but it is now undergoing full restoration ahead of the old restaurant’s prospective relaunch. Though it built its reputation as a restaurant that offered exquisite cuisine, the building was renowned mostly for its popularity with the social elite, which turned the premises into a city landmark. It stood neglected for eight years, wedged among strings of modern cafe bars, prompting sadness and nostalgia in romantics. But such feelings should soon vanish as a result of the restoration work currently being conducted by the property’s owner, Eurobank-Ergasias. The project, which is being carried out by one of the owner’s subsidiary firms, Eurobank Properties, is still in its early stages. Phase one, the facade’s restoration, has been completed to reinforce the building’s structure, making sure everything is safe. Eurobank Properties’ managing director, Aristotelis Karytinos, noted that the restoration project is progressing in line with a decision reached by the state-run archaeological institute which obliges the property’s owner not only to revamp the building but also to re-establish the defunct historic restaurant. Besides the restaurant, which will take up the building’s ground level, other parts will also be utilized, possibly for a hotel business. Located on Nikis Avenue, the building, officially labeled a prime example of eclectic architecture by the authorities, is closely connected with Thessaloniki’s modern history. Its revamp was set in motion by a state decision, reached in 1993, placing both building and restaurant on a cultural heritage list, which obliges the owner to restore it fully. «It was designed by Thessaloniki’s renowned architect Jacques Mosse with neoclassical elements, exceptional interior decorating, wall and ceiling paintings, and is an amazing example of the city’s traditional architecture,» remarked Karytinos. He pointed out that the old establishment’s fame spread beyond Greece’s borders as a restaurant that drew politicians and artists. «That’s why it’s inseparably linked to the city’s social life.» The building was constructed in the early 1920s, originally to accommodate the first-floor administrative offices of an old brewery, Olympos-Naoussa, with the ground level reserved for exhibitions of the firm’s produce and beer-tasting sessions. The brewery’s name was kept when the premises were converted to a restaurant in 1935. During the German occupation, the premises were turned into a nightclub, but one of the building’s three showrooms was used as an intelligence center.