The very high prices of drinks, coffee and all the entertainment in Greece have been of young people concern for years. "Why does a glass of beer cost 2-4 euro in western Europe and 5-7 in Greece? Why do they pay 1.30 - 1.50 euro for a cup of coffee in Barcelona, Berlin and Rome while in Greece a frappe costs 3.50 euro?" Those are few of the questions that have not been answered so far.
In the times of "fat cows" when the consumption and the "see who I am" way of thinking were in power in Greece, no one bothered to question the market trends or to put a veto on the owners of establishments who speculated on the prices. In times of crisis, however, things have changed. After "many nights ruinous for our pockets, but extremely profitable for the restaurant owners", a company of young people around 30 years old decided to find the places with cheap drinks in Athens and present them on the Internet.
The young people created the website ftinapota.gr (cheap drinks), which initially contained just a list of the cheap bars in Athens. A dynamic virtual community formed gradually and its members spent whole nights in search of places not speculating on prices. Thus, the users created an archive and expand its content each week, commenting and evaluating the information based on their own experience.
Behind the original idea of making the website are three young people - Kostas, Margarita and Vangelis. They do not want to tell their family names, because their purpose is not to associate ftinapota.gr with them, but with the large number of members who are looking for cheap and quality entertainment.
"The idea was born in 2009 when I was a soldier on the island of Samos. I was looking for a catalogue with the prices of the drinks in the bars in Athens but there was not any. We talked with my friends and initially identified 40 establishments that we would "investigate". After many drinks, walks and help from friends the idea evolved in its present form. We believed until recently that drinks are expensive in Athens, but now we are starting to deny that," says Kostas for To Vima newspaper, who is a surveyor by profession.
The other creator of the page – the 31-year-old Vangelis – said that the need for entertainment at lower prices concerns not only young people, but also people of all ages with different financial capabilities. "Financial needs are not the only reason that makes a man look for better prices. It is often a matter of choice. I think things would be better if those who do not need cheap entertainment are still looking for it. In any case, the philosophy and mentality can not be changed only with the choice of a bar with lower prices. The question is more complicated," he says.
The "geographical" map of the cheapest bars in Athens is very interesting. "Although most of the bars listed on the site are located in the city centre and especially in the neighborhood of Eksarchia, we came to the conclusion that there are cheap restaurants everywhere and they just have to be found. The positive thing is that most of their owners set their prices consciously and to their beliefs. As a result, there are cases in which they themselves recommend us other places with similar prices. Customers usually support the same philosophy and position," says the 30-year-old Margarita, adding that as a result of the change in customer behavior more owners are changing their mentality to "cheap and of good quality."
"The neighbourhood of Eksarchia with the cheap cafes, Metaksourgio, Keramikos and Petralona, where the restaurants offer a bit of everything, are first on our list as well as the fact that one the cheapest bars in the otherwise expensive suburb of Agia Paraskevi was opened soon. We know most of the owners personally and they are enthusiastic about our efforts and help us," says Kostas.
What, in fact, is the reason for the high prices in most bars in Greece? Is it a matter of operating costs, setting market prices or of most common speculation?" The people who had a drink at least once in Gazi, Psiri or Tissio have certainly asked the same question. However, there is not only one answer. Obviously, there are objective factors that determine the prices of each service and product. Operating costs, rents, social security of employees are such factors. Of course, this applies to those owners who rent the premises and pay the insurance regularly," Kostas says ironically.
"It is very strange that the prices of drinks are "round", such 5 or 6 euros, while the increases are always rounded. If someone raises the price of a drink from 5 to 6 euro, which happens often, this is a 20% increase, which is not common in other goods," emphasizes Vangelis.
According to the creators of ftinapota.gr, the existence of successful bars with low prices proves the resilience of "cheap" entertainment without having to offer fake drinks and use similar methods.
"The bars with the low prices are usually in small premises with low rent. Their owners often decorate them alone thus reducing the costs. However, we have noticed in recent years that the newly establishments have multiple owners who share the costs, work there and hire additional staff only on certain days of the week," said Vangelis.
Margarita added, "We do not know of any establishment offering clean and cheap drinks in a pleasant atmosphere that is not appreciated by the customers. Fortunately, we know that the entertainment of good quality does not always cost the money we spend."