Kosher restaurant in Athens wins gold medal with customers

athens (jta) | To many Athenians, a kosher restaurant is an odd site — but, if early returns are any indication, a welcome one as well. Since opening Aug. 1 in advance of this month’s Olympic Games, the Kol Tuv restaurant has done a brisk business: Its varied menu — from Greek moussaka to Mideastern hummus to Greek Jewish haminados, an oven-baked egg dish — has attracted Jews and non-Jews alike.

“The atmosphere of the restaurant and the decor are amazing,” said Liana Zervou, a Greek Christian customer. “I was surprised by the tasty traditional Greek Jewish dishes, and I called one of my Jewish friends right away to tell them how great it is.”

It’s believed to be the first time a kosher restaurant has opened in Greece since World War II, when more than 90 percent of the Jewish community died in the Holocaust.

The community, which numbers some 5,000 people, is very assimilated, and Rabbi Mendel Hendel himself — who has a beard — is something of a curiosity for many Greeks. Hendel oversees Chabad of Athens, which opened the restaurant.

Hendel is unsure whether the restaurant will remain open after the Games close at the end of the month, but says he may be tempted to keep it running.