New Neighbor

Stella's Grocery now open on Lafayette Street in Sauer's Gardens.

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It all started with a prep kitchen. Katrina and Johnny Giavos needed a place nearby for Katrina’s mother, Stella Dikos, to make her much beloved dishes for the third incarnation of her wildly popular eponymous restaurant, Stella’s. They also need room to bake — Chelle Bravo, their baker, was making desserts for all of the restaurants the couple own or co-owns, including Stella’s, Kitchen 64 and Perly’s, among others.

The conversation slowly evolved. Johnny wanted to turn part of the space into a spot to buy prepared food. Giavos is already a busy woman — most nights, you’ll find her at Stella’s talking to customers, delivering plates to tables and making sure things are running smoothly. Over the years, she’s been onsite to open nearly a half-dozen restaurants.

“I told Johnny he was crazy if he thought I’d do another thing,” says Katrina Giavos. And she didn’t want to overwhelm her mother.

Then the notion of a neighborhood market — with staples for neighbors to pick up instead of having to go all the way to the supermarket — became the next step in the concept’s evolution. Giavos became intrigued by the idea. The old market across the street from Stella’s became available and the notion became a reality. “We went back and forth,” she says, “There were lots of ideas.”

Katrina added another element to the mix: a little coffee bar, dubbed Stella's Cafe, serving coffee, baked goods and other things like Greek yogurt with sour cherries and smoothies. Its Modbar espresso machine — it’s installed under the counter with a tap above — is due to arrive in the next couple of days.

You’ll find Gelati Celesti’s products there, beer, wine and specialty items from Greece, including olives, olive oil, feta, besides items (anything from baby food to milk and eggs) that customers need the most.

Although the prepared food’s expansion will roll out slowly, right now Stella’s dolmades, tzatziki, hummus and few other small items are already available.

"We wanted to get the place open and running," says Johnny. "If we weren't open and were waiting for everything to be in, we'd be waiting forever."

Stella’s Grocery at 1007 Lafayette St. will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Which begs the question: Where is Giavos finding the time to do all of this?

“When I take time off or go on a nice trip,” she says. “I realize that I like working really hard — it’s more rewarding.”

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