More food+drink changes on 19th Ave E as now-teenage Vios up for sale

(Image: Vios Cafe)

This has nothing to do with the new neighbors. Some 14 years after he opened the Greek cafe on 19th Ave E, Thomas Soukakos has decided to sell the restaurant.

But don’t shoot dirty looks across the street at the newly opened Macrina Cafe.

“Thomas has been around the block quite a few times,” wife and business partner Rebecca Soukakos tells CHS about the decision. When Thomas opened Vios, his son was two. Today, he’s a junior in high school.

Rebecca says that Thomas is now ready to focus on his “grown up” restaurant — Omega Ouzeri, which opened on 14th Ave in 2015.

“Until the new buyer is found, Vios Cafe & Marketplace will continue to celebrate life with our neighbors, and we hope neighbors will continue the celebration at Omega Ouzeri,” they write in the announcement of the planned sale.


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The announcement follows the sale of the Ravenna Vios earlier this year.

Starting with El Greco on Broadway in 1994 and creating his two Vios restaurants took Soukakos on a path that in many ways mirrored his life with family and a cautious, humble approach to the restaurant business. “I wanted to do the grown-up version of Vios,” said Soukakos, who opened Vios on 19th Ave E in 2004 after losing his wife and El Greco partner Carol to postpartum depression.

In the 14 years since opening, Vios has seen 19th Ave E slowly wake up from years of sleepiness with new development and new restaurants. Zeeks Pizza will open later this year in new construction on the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer. Across 19th Ave E, Rocket Taco opened earlier this year in the former Kingfish Cafe space where Brian Clevenger’s Contadino flamed out after only six months. 19th Ave E also features sweets and treats at Hello Robin and its Molly Moon’s window, coffee at Fuel, and a neighborhood grocery at Cone and Steiner.

And, no, don’t blame Macrina. “We’re excited that Macrina is in the neighborhood,” Rebecca said, noting that Vios spent the summer serving the morning coffee and baked goods crowd while Macrina construction was underway and, apparently, was happy to cede the market to the newcomers.

When a buyer is found, it will mark the second big name on the street to be sold in recent months. Linda Derschang-founded Tallulah’s got new buyers earlier this year in a deal that included the restaurant, its lease, and its brand.

It will also continue a string of transactions this year involving some of the Hill’s more long-established restaurants and bars. A recent example is the sale of Ethan Stowell’s restaurant space formerly home to Anchovies and Olives. Today, Chinese-flavored Plenty of Clouds calls 15th at Pine home.

What comes next for the Vios space on 19th Ave E is an open question. The restaurant remains open and Rebecca says she and Thomas are open to offers that would keep the restaurant and its Greek specialties but she thinks it will be hard to find a buyer willing to dedicate themselves to tzatziki.

The full announcement of the sale is below.

The 4th C. BC, Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” Thomas Soukakos, chef and restauranteur, of former El Greco on Broadway, Vios Cafe & Pub at Thirdplace Books in Ravenna, Vios Cafe & Marketplace on Capitol Hill, and Omega Ouzeri on Capitol Hill, announces the sale of Vios Cafe & Marketplace on Capitol Hill.

In March of 2018, Thomas quietly sold Vios Cafe & Pub at Third Place in Ravenna, to Ed and Arta Vogli, now Café Arta Bistro & Pub.  Vios Cafe & Pub at Third Place fed and read with children and adults for over nine years. It was Soukakos’ second, Vios Cafe location, and third restaurant in Seattle.

Now, it’s time to change again. It’s time to concentrate full-time on Omega Ouzeri, Soukakos’ almost four years old, contemporary, Greek restaurant and wine bar on Capitol Hill. It’s Soukakos’ goal to spend more time in Greece with friends and family, bringing back Greek wines to share with the Pacific Northwest. Omega Ouzeri has expanded into the retail wine arena, promoting Greek wines with frequent tastings, a new Greek wine club in the works, and private wine dinners. Omega will also continue Vios style catering once Vios is sold.

Nothing is permanent except change and it’s time. Vios Cafe & Marketplace on Capitol Hill, is in its 15th year, a community gathering spot that happens to serve good Greek comfort food and wine, while children play in the play area. Vios means Life, and there has been a lot of life celebrated with and at Vios Cafe. First and 88th birthdays, baptisms and celebrations of life, there have been a lot of tears of joy and grief shared amongst the tzatziki and avgolemono soup.

Until the new buyer is found, Vios Cafe & Marketplace will continue to celebrate life with our neighbors, and we hope neighbors will continue the celebration at Omega Ouzeri.

 

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