The garden is not the only place Anina has injected new life into. Soon after she started her sunset bar/restaurant project, she was offered other properties and in the case of the “Agora Café” she jumped on the occasion. She remembered how lively the little place framed by two churches had been when she was still a child. But the café that used to be there had disappeared decades ago, leaving the place more and more deserted.
Since she had already figured out the most difficult part for the “Garden of Ios” – i.e. sourcing food locally and other logistics, it did not seem too daunting to start a second gastronomic enterprise. So, she had the old café renovated, keeping as many of the traditional features as possible, but adding her own stylish, monochrome touch as well as state of the art equipment. This included finding the right type of coffee machine suitable for the island’s rough climate, where even ultrahard V8 steel will start to rust. An Italian “Elektra” with copper interior was deemed the perfect solution. The coffee itself, though not grown in Greece, is sourced direct trade, torrefied on a neighboring island and served freshly ground.
The recipes for all sweets, including the to-die-for chocolate cake, have been created by Anina herself and are entirely sugar-free. She strives to serve food that is healthy and makes you feel good, all while being delicious. But your taste buds are not the only sense she wants to appeal to. She hired musicians from Athens and Crete to play a very traditional form of Rembetiko live in the evenings all throughout the summer months. The magic works so well, you might think the place had always been like this. Some of the beautiful old glassware adds to this feeling, although again it is a labor of love. Just like during her film days, Anina went treasure hunting to find “props”. When on the top floor of a shop for catering supplies in Piraeus she discovered the dusty stock of a glass factory that had closed down in the 1950s, she knew she had struck gold.
“Agora Café” has proven to appeal to locals and tourists alike, but it is for the locals Anina decided to keep the place open year-round and nothing makes her happier than their approval. “There is only a handful of places open during the winter and especially young people need a place they can go to.”