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Kokkino’s is an old-fashioned kinda place

Barbara Moser

October, 2010

I am always looking for somewhere to write my articles and correct my students’ work, a quiet, comfortable place that serves great café au lait with a few extras, where the music is mellow, customers say “good morning,” and where I can settle in with the morning Gazette.

And I’ve found it — at Sherbrooke and Harvard in the heart of N.D.G. What’s inside is written on the window: espresso, patisserie Grecque, salads, tisanes biologiques, yogurt glacé. And smoothies. And everything is made on the premises.

John Zampetovlakis, daughter Jacqueline and father Angelo hang out at Kokkino’s. Photo: Barbara Moser

“I create communities,” says John Zampetovlakis, owner of Kokkino’s. As I sip a superb café au lait, a customer walks in and John says: “Tell me your story.” As I munch on an all-dressed bagel sprinkled with olive oil (John’s amazing concoction), he explains more about how his homey little resto works.

“Somebody needs help with something. I know someone who can help them—like a senior citizen who needs the leaves raked and I know someone who rakes leaves, so I get them together.”

John’s menu is simply and divinely Greek to me. If you’re there around lunchtime, try the flakey, light, and packed with spinach, spanakopita ($3.93) or the tiropita (cheese pie) at $2.50. Add a salad—I highly recommend the curried chick peas or the beets or a bit of each—and a drink, all for $7.95. John also serves burritos and bagels with cheese or butter—or olive oil. Okay, so it’s not all Greek to me.

John owned Miss Monkland, but closed it 10 years ago. Kokkino’s opened about two years ago.

Paintings are exhibited at Kokkino’s and in the winter on Saturdays from 8 to 11pm, he puts on shows — local artists doing folk or rhythm and blues. “I’ve had everything,” John says. “Whatever the person plays.”

Kokkino’s: 5673 Sherbrooke (corner Harvard). Monday to Saturday John opens at 9 am. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday he closes at 7:30 pm and Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 11pm. Sunday: 11-6. Free WiFi. If and when you do try Kokkino’s, send us your reviews and stories. After all, this is a community we’re talking about, and every day is a story.



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