Athens wants to lure diners back to the centre of the Greek capital with set-price budget meals that cost no more than 10 euros. France does the same thing well: set price three courses for about 13 euros. Dining out – a staple of Greek life – has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Once affordable family tavernas and restaurants are doing it tough as their former patrons simply stay home. Athenian diners want their tradition back, and to be realistically priced.
But the Dimos Athinon (Municipality of Athens) has just launched a pilot scheme for a month, to encourage people back, particularly on Tuesday nights when business is really slow. It’s also a boost for tourists who are unimpressed with food prices. The city hall’s website says the scheme also includes a two-euro coffee and alcoholic drinks at 5 euros. The coffee price is welcome. I resented paying 5 euros for mediocre coffee two years ago. The scheme started last week and participating restaurants will slash prices each Tuesday until June 5.
The Kathemerini newspaper reports: “A bowl of vegetable soup, handmade bread rolls, stuffed onion, lamb shank, apricot and apple sauce, pancetta, yogurt dip, and a sweet creme brule with orange and cardamom all comes for the price of 10 euros every Tuesday at Athiri (15 Plataion, Kerameikos). Eva Lambraki, the queen of the kitchen at Cretan restaurant Katsourbos in Pangrati (2 Amyntas), explains that the 10-euro menu there will include an individual salad, a main course of the diners choosing, sweet cheese pies and a serving of raki.”
Suburbs in the city centre such as Kolonaki, Pangrati, Monastiraki, Exarchia, Psyrri and Thiseio, are embracing the scheme.
Retailers also hope it will encourage shoppers to come back. Over 30 restaurants, bars and cafes are participating which is a drop in the bucket for a city with thousands of outlets. But it’s a start. Meanwhile, the the Athens Big Band and Athens Philharmonic have also joined the bid to jolly along the capital with free concerts over the next four weeks.