Athens Cafe, Cherry Hill, NJ CLOSED - Any Info?
The Athens Cafe, a greek BYOB on Rt. 70 in Cherry Hill closed recently. Does anyone know anything? Are the owners relocating? I'm going to miss it!
oh no! we were going to try and go tonight - I figured they MUST be back from vacation (we showed up twice in August and there was an "on vacation" sign).
I've been wanting to try Norma's, just up the road - lots of veggie options for me - so maybe I'll pretend I didn't read this, we'll go, he'll be heartbroken and then I'll re-route him to Normas!
I think they have gone downhill the past few years. They used to be so good. I wish there was a great Greek place in the area. I gave up on Athens after having a few lousy meals in the past few years.
I know the owner has had some health issues in the past (waitress told me). Maybe he just got tired all the stress from running a restaurant.
we rode by on the way to Keswick Cycle yesterday and it appears the "new" place is already there. Unfortunately my other half just left for a 10-day trip, so I can't try it anytime soon.
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1. Michael Stamatiades sold the Athens Cafe to a new owner who renamed it Kuzina by Sofia. http://kuzinabysofia.com/ . New menu & decor but still all Greek.
2. A Google search brings up Michael opening a new American/Italian/Greek restaurant in Cherry Hill. See http://cherryhill.injersey.com/2009/1... . The post there is dated "Oct 15" with NO YEAR, but my guess is 2009 based on the 1st comment and URL.
3. See the post at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/729093 about the former Athens Cafe owner Michael opening up a new Greek place in west Cherry Hill, Santorini Cafe, in August 2010.
4. See a news article on it's opening and Michael & Liz's history at http://cherryhill.injersey.com/2010/0... . A year after opening Talk of the Town Michael's back with an Athens replacement, Santorini.
5. See also a 5-star review from 5 days ago at http://www.yelp.com/biz/santorini-caf... .
My wife and I had heard that Michael was back--we wondered where. Some internet sleuthing gives us the answer. Time for us to check out Santorini!
Having found "the new Athens" yesterday morning my wife and I went there yesterday late afternoon. We arrived just after the Eagles scored 28 straight points to beat the Giants by 7 with 0:00 on the clock! Which was about 4:30 pm, so we were the only customers at that time. We greeted Michael who remembered the first time I visited the original Athens Cafe next to WaWa, which was as part of a singles group around 1985-87! So we were both glad to see each other for the first time in 3 years, and my wife and I are happy that I rediscovered Athens/Santorini. I forgot to ask Michael why he didn't name the restaurant Athens again, this being his fourth spot for it. But he did tell me that Talk of the Town didn't work out the way he had hoped, so he left it.
Comparing the Santorini menu to a 2004 Athens menu I have, they are almost identical, except for today's increased prices. Comparing the Santorini menu to a Kuzina by Sofia menu, they are very very close, with Sofia appearing to have more choices. Therefore for those seeking real Greek food in South Jersey, you now have 2 good places from which to choose.
My wife had her standard, the braised lamb shank. The lamb almost melts in your mouth. This has been a family favorite for over 20 years. I now eat a vegan diet, so I was glad to find the Baked Stuffed Eggplant, stuffed with veggies. Since it was already on the menu I didn't need to request Michael to create a special entree for me without meat/fish/seafood/poultry/dairy, altho he said he would if I wanted. There are also a bunch of vegan side dishes available. I cheated though and had my usual Avgolemono soup, we shared the cold appetizer of giant white beans baked in a tomato herb sauce, she had a Greek dinner salad. We both had the Oven Roasted Potatoes. The warm Pita bread has been, and continues to be, the BEST Pita served in ANY Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurant in the region! As a carb addict, I say the Pita here is worth a visit alone! We were too full for dessert.
Since we were the only customers during the pre-dinner hour our service was friendly and attentive, with conversation between our table and the table Michael was at with some staff. I forgot to take a bottle of wine--we should stash a bottle in the car for the next time we go to a BYOB unplanned! Since everything was fine there's no reason not to give Santorini 5 stars.
Welcome back Michael!