After 75 years, the legendary Zonars –in the junction of Panepistimiou Street and Voukourestiou Street, across the gracious Schliemann building, near Syntagma Square– reclaims its former glory. Spyros and Chrysanthos Panas brothers are now in charge, reopening the historic local and focusing mainly on dining and entertainment.
Its story begins in 1934, when Karolos Zonaras, an expatriate from America decided to create a cosy cafe-confectionery. Historical personalities from both the political and the city's art scene and not only –Odysseas Elytis, Manos Hadjidakis, Nikos Gatsos, Melina Mercouri, Sophia Loren, and Anthony Quinn among others– filled the place with their auras and made it their local.
Today Zonars maintains its cosmopolitan character with its completely renovated space by K-studio architectural company and the stage design by Dionysis Fotopoulos, paying homage to its historicity through the modern architectural approach. Indeed, the feeling of being in a hotel lobby –as when it first opened– is pervasive. The majesty of the place cannot, under any circumstances, go unnoticed and this applies to all of its individual parts –main bar, cocktail bar, coffee corner, sushi bar.
Zonars menu is curated by the award-winning Executive Chef Nikos Skliras, suggesting options from the sushi section and dishes of Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, while some of the favourite flavours of important personalities are added to his card bearing their names. Lovers of sweets should not forget to try the Chicago dessert.
During the day, the wide windows allow light to spread in the area, for as long as you enjoy your coffee and breakfast overlooking the neoclassical buildings of Panepistimiou Street or the renewed prestige of the pedestrian Voukourestiou Street. As time goes on, the curtains close and the atmospheric light from the lightings of the internationally renowned industrial designer Michael Anastassiades transforms the space into a lounge bar- restaurant for an after office cocktail (try any of the signature cocktails) with a cosmopolitan air.
Zonars, then, is one of those places that are definitely worth a visit, regardless of whether you are into this type, so that you can get a taste of what Athens was like in the past.