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Street stories: “I would like to open up a cabaret”

09 April 2010 / 11:04:40  GRReporter
4954 reads

Emanuela Karastoyanova

“Briki” or “djezve” as we say in Bulgarian is a place for which every young man in Athens who has some respect for himself has heard and visited at least once. Democratic and warm it is like a small room in the center of the town in which the Athenians and not only they, meet. It is not from these days that it has become famous. As one of the owners Alexandros Petrakis tells us “Briki” has its history. It has connected many people in town, it has initiated many love stories, some of which have reached to a marriage… However the most important thing is just one – in “Briki” there is a place for everyone. Here are coming people of all types. For a coffee after work, for a glass of beer or wine in the evening, here everybody feels home “in sleepers”. The atmosphere is artistic and slightly theatrical, and the music is rock, jazz, soul, swing. In some of the afternoons you could drink you coffee with classical music in the background…

“Briki” is a place with fantasy and natural atmosphere. Just as Alexandros Petrakis is, with whom spoke. In his café he met us with a “cheerful” cloth on his head and sun glasses (summer is coming!). He shared with us that for a long time he lived in Amsterdam and he has traveled in many countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. And that he has the habit of coming to work on a … bicycle. Look what else he told us:


About the history of the café:

“The story of the café starts in 1998. This is the year when we opened it here at Mavili square. Before this we had another café with the same name in the Panrati neighborhood, but we sold it. We kept however its name. It was very little – only 25 square meters, however inside it was fun and a person felt as if he was in a bus (he laughs…)”.


About the things that make “Briki” famous:

“There are a lot of places in town where people go. This however is a place “steki” (meeting point). A café and a bar at the same time, where a person feels comfortable and has a close contact with the staff. The people who work here have friendly natural relations with the visitors. The music, the atmosphere… everything contributes for making a person feel good in here. In “Briki” are coming different people – some are coming to have a drink after work, others are making their meetings here… They don’t find false attitude here. We act naturally and we are trying to create a natural and sincere atmosphere”.

About the clients:

“We have clients we know since they were young – since they were 17, 18 years old. Now they are 28, 30 years old. In “Briki” they have met their loved one. Some of them are already married, others have a relationship. Their history is written here. However at the same time in the bar are being written also the little everyday stories of our other newer clients. This is a live story which has its continuance every day. As it is in the movie “Coffee and cigarettes” with Iggy Pop and Tom Waits, where everyone passes by the bar in order to talk for a while with the people over there. It is the same here – people are passing by and talking and their stories are taken out of the everyday life. You could meet interesting people – the bar itself is a social place. Some people are even making their business meetings here”.

About the cafes in Greece from once upon a time:

“Once upon a time there weren’t any places like this in Greece. For those times the cafeterias and bars were more typical. The bars were opening at 22:00 while during the day you cannot drink a coffee as it is today for example. This type of coffees appeared in the 80s. They were born as a need of the people who cannot go out often late at night”.


Most people are coming here to have fun or to drown their problems in alcohol:

“Most people are coming to have fun… I don’t think that what is happening to us, like the crisis for example or some other problems we have are affecting us so much. At a certain point a man has to say “Enough! I am going to drink a coffee and have a good time!” However it is a fact that in stead of having 3 drinks for example, some only order one as they don’t have the money for more”.


About the crisis and the current situation in Greece:

“The difference can be felt in the tips. However this does not bother us so much. We are being overloaded by different things… One listens, listens and then cannot do it anymore. What they did right now with the collection of the receipts for example is madness. We are now seized by a madness, a mania. As if tomorrow the humanity would not wake up. That is why we are trying to do everything fast, to manage to finish and at the end… we close ourselves inside of us. This is the system and everybody enters in it”.

Greece compared to the other countries in Europe:

“We are in a better position when it comes to the climate. If you don’t have money to sit and drink a coffee in “Briki”, you could come to the kiosk for newspapers across the street, take a beer and meet somebody on the street. We know how to settle with less. You could always grab a souvlaki”.


About whether the Greek strives for wealth:

“There was something like this until recently. There was a class of people which was driving around in jeeps and smoking cigars. And now it “cracked”. I am talking about the newly rich Greeks who have the attitude of playing the big bosses”.


The place is called “Briki” (“Djezve”):

„One of the co owners thought of it. We named it like this as it is fun”


About what are the Greeks drinking recently:

“They drink many things. Right now there is a trend for cocktails. We make them here in the classical style. In the last few years the consumption of beer also defiantly increased. Once upon a time people didn’t drink as much beer, there was no beer philosophy in Greece. While in Europe drinking beer is like drinking coffee for us. We don’t have the culture of drinking beer, however we are getting there with the years passing. Wine is also a preferred drink. The girls are often ordering wine so they don’t get fat”. (he laughs)

About going out and the habits of the people today:

“The so called “after office” events are becoming more and more popular”. I am talking about an afternoon consumption – between the hours of 19:00 and 22:00. It is logical that if you woke up at 7:00 or 8:00 o’clock in the morning you cannot go out late at night. (Unless you are a student). If you do it you might not be able to go to work or even open your eyes…”

About himself and his dreams:

“I work in this field for 23 years all ready… I would like to open a cabaret… Unfortunately currently the situation is a bit strange. I would like to have in it a stage, music and theatrical atmosphere. I dream that there is also a dressing room where we could change with different costumes and make performances. And when the client comes he wouldn’t see the same people serving him… He will see a person from the staff in clothes which right away will take him to a far destination. To be as if you are watching a performance… In this way the client will be at the same time in Sofia, Paris, Los Angelis everywhere. I am not talking about strange and odd things or about something extreme, but rather for something more classical. I like the classics. Something which is more in “burlesque” style as we like to say around here. Something to make you feel euphorically. And the clients themselves could take part in these performances. The set scene is from the 1920 or 1930. And everything will be life, and this exactly is the interesting part for me. To be together with our clients in an imaginary world. A world where everybody feels comfortable like at home and which will be a mixture of different elements.”

Except in Greece he could also live in:

„Argentina, Brazil, everywhere. However in Spain I would go without giving it a second thought. I have been there many times”.

About money:

„The money for me is just a mean. It is not so important for me to have houses or cars. I travel with a bicycle. I also have a motorcycle – a scooter which I also use to come to work”.

 About the Greek music:

“We will never play contemporary Greek music here. There is very nice Greek music, however its starts at the end of the 50s. It brings in it a special type of sound. The contemporary Greek music, especially the one in the taverns does not inspire us. We have played here music from the 50s, Manolis Hiotis for example. However we are in the Balkan peninsula after all and more or less we all have this tavern music in us. You could see a great jazz performer at 3:00 o’clock at night standing and dancing on a table chifteteli… I think that each one of us brings inside the Balkan element. I am not against it and I do not criticize it.”


If he is outside the borders of Greece and hears Greek music:

„It won’t get to me so much. I will say to myself: Tavern music! Ha ha! And I would go on…”


 About where he takes his inspiration from for the café and in his life:

„Inside of me, I would say. This of course changes in the different periods of time”.


About where he sees himself and “Briki” 20 years from now:

„About the café I don’t know. For myself – having more tattoos, more piercing and a bit crazier than I am right now.”


He wishes for himself and to every Greek:

„To have good health as a whole and most of all in our heads. I see we need this. I see it in the people who are coming here to have a drink. Their inner world comes out from their soul. Their feelings are coming out as they are… The story of each one of us is different…”


Briki Bar

Dorileou 6, str., Mavili Square, Athens

Tel. 210 64 52 380


Tags: Briki Athens cafe music Alexandros Patrakis
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