Greek native Thomas Soukakos is no novice when it comes to creating restaurants: He gave us El Greco on Broadway, Vios on North Capitol Hill, then a second Vios attached to Third Place Books in Ravenna—all Greek, all lively, all centers of community.
His latest, in Pike/Pine, is Omega Ouzeri—in its way, the most vividly Greek of them all. “I wanted to open the kind of place that’s very common in Greece, where people gather, get a plate of food, have a drink, share stories,” Soukakos told me. “In Greece we call it an ouzeri, or a tsipouradiko—places where you can drink [Greek spirits] ouzo or tsipouro, and get some food to go with it. Culturally, Greeks never drink on an empty stomach.” These gathering places function for Greeks much as coffeehouses do for Seattleites—they’re drop-in, they’re casual, and they create community.
The result at Omega Ouzeri is a Greek restaurant for Greeks. And by Greeks. “The problems in Greece right now…it makes me feel bad,” Soukakos says. “But I want to say, one reason I opened this restaurant was, I wanted to tell a different story about Greece. To support Greece. So the architects for this restaurant, they’re in Greece. The logo, the website, the wine list—they were all done in Greece. I tried to give work to the people back home. They’re having a hard time.”
He named Omega after the last letter in the Greek alphabet: “A sign of refinement, completion, the ultimate,” he explains. How’d he do? Read my review right here, in the August issue of Seattle Met.