Medusa Greek Taverna arrives at Park Slope
PARK SLOPE – On December 4, George Constantinou opened his fourth restaurant with her husband, Farid Ali – a modern Greek place called Medusa Greek Tavern. The couple now operate three restaurants within two blocks of Park Slope— Bogota, which came first in 2005, Miti Miti, which opened in 2014, and now Medusa, the latest addition. Their fourth place, Miti Miti New Jersey, opened in 2018 in the south of Orange, where Constantinou and Ali live with their two children.
Medusa Greek Tavern is cleanly decorated, with covered chandeliers, minimal bar, neon jellyfish head right next to the hostess stand, mixing traditional and contemporary. So far, the neighborhood loves it, says Constantinou.
“Things went well. There really isn’t a Greek restaurant in this area which I think has a vibe that we’re going to create. You walk into this place, you can see there is a design element. There is a cool vibe, ”said Constantinou.
That “vibe” is something the pair are known for in the neighborhood – their other two locations are busy, with music and drinks flowing. Although unique, the proximity of the three spots has never been in question.
“I’ve always admired, I guess it sounds cliché, but Danny Meyer’s approach of opening restaurants with different themes within walking distance. When Bogota opened its doors, it was an instant success. People would always be [say] “Oh, open one in Astoria, open one in Manhattan, go to Williamsburg,” and honestly as an owner I’ve never liked. I feel like I would be crazy to be stuck in a car all day, ”Constantinou said.
It has been a long way to the opening of Medusa. Constantinou signed the lease for the space, which was to be a turnkey situation from the restaurant’s previous tenant, in 2018. It quickly became apparent that the space was not in the shape they hoped for and that a complete renovation of the intestine follow. From there, loans from the SBA and the liquor board set up further roadblocks.
“It’s pretty crazy that you have to focus on opening your restaurant, marketing, staffing and training, but behind the scenes you have to worry about the liquor license, the health service,” he said. declared Constantinou. Medusa finally got her hands on her liquor license last week, having already been approved for months.
With the opening of Medusa, Constantinou’s legacy, as well as Ali’s, is reflected almost directly in the restaurants they own. Constantinou was born to Costa Rican and Greek immigrants. He grew up eating a unique mix of dishes at home, which he attributes to his strong palate.
“My father was a tailor [and] my mother was a cleaning lady. My mom worked for a lot of wealthy families on Long Island, and she learned to cook, obviously she grew up and knew how to cook Latin. [food], then she knew how to cook American cuisine, then she learned Greek cuisine from my father. Any day of the week we would have moussaka, or my mom would make gallo pinto, which was a Costa Rican dish, or we would have like a chicken pie. My friends would say to me, “What is this? “. I was exposed to all of these different foods, ”Constantinou said.
Despite the stress, the long build time on Medusa was a blessing for Constantinou.
“As the construction was taking so long, I took a father-son trip to Greece and Cyprus over the summer. My dad and I went hiking and hanging out in Athens. [We] just explore and eat and try things. So, it was a good bonding trip with my dad, but also a good exploration of Greek food and drink, ”Constantinou said.
Many of these Greek classics are on offer on Medusa’s menu. Pastitsio, spanakopita, loukaniko (a Greek sausage), and horiataki (Greek village salad) are all popular menu items.
With the new addition of the liquor license, an all-Greek wine list, although Constantinou says more wines from neighboring countries could be added later. The spot also has a long list of non-alcoholic cocktails, as well as Greek sodas and an Athenian lager. Eventually the spot will have a full bar, but still awaiting alcohol deliveries.
“It’s exciting, because Medusa is a new kitchen. Not that I’m tired of other restaurants, but I haven’t had tacos for about a month, ”Constantinou said with a laugh. He’s on-site at Medusa typically five days a week, making sure he has weekends with his family in New Jersey.
“I think every new restaurant sucks you in, and maybe for the first three months it’s tough and you want to make sure things get done. But, I would say after three restaurants under my belt, I hire the managers, I trust the managers can do the job. Whereas in the beginning it was just me and my husband. We were the managers, we were all seven days a week. It was hard to let go of control. Now I think I understand if I want my sanity, and I have kids, and I want a good work-life balance – I have to let go of control, “Constantinou said.
Constantinou’s road to Medusa was rich in stories, told with jobs at MTV, teaching English in Japan, working for an internet marketing company and becoming manager of a Fort Greene restaurant within two weeks of being hired in as a bartender.
“When I graduated from college, it’s always like you’re there with all that energy and excitement. What I’m doing with my life ? I go left, I go right? My friends and I would talk and say, “Oh, I wish I could jump in the next 20 years and see what happened”. I’m like, sacred cow, here I am. I had to make some good gestures, ”said Constantinou.
Medusa Greek Taverna is located at 133 5th Avenue, between Sterling and St. John’s Places. They are open Monday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 12 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Medusa is also available for delivery on Uber Eats and DoorDash.