The blue-awning-clad corner of 10th and Spruce was always buzzing thanks to Konstantinos Pitsillides’ fantastic Greek plates at Kanella. The space had a distinct energy, and not only because it was perennially packed.
“With 44 seats and no alcohol, we really couldn’t be busier than we were, which was a good thing,” says Caroline Christian, Pitsillides’ wife and partner.
Considering expansion or a second restaurant, the couple looked at more than 150 spaces in the city before settling on a South Front Street spot in Queen Village that was home most recently to the short-lived Village Belle.
“We saw the kitchen and thought, ‘We want to give it to our baby [Kanella],’” Christian says. “That’s when the idea dawned on us to move Kanella here.”
Falling in love at first sight with the kitchen may have been the catalyst, but there was more to the move than square footage.
“We’re neighborhood people, so we’re always looking at not just the space and the vibe but also the neighborhood,” Christian says. “We like to be a local restaurant — any ‘destination’ element that we’ve had has been lucky, but not sought after.
“We like being part of a village, and giving the village a place to go to regularly,” she adds, referring to the homey, neighborly feel of Queen Village.
The new look
Kanella South opened just a few short months after the original location closed, with an expansive dining room bathed in natural light, a pleasant outdoor seating area and a full bar. The architectural firm that designed stunners like Barbuzzo and Capofitto helped the revamped restaurant retain its historic roots.
While the bulk of the menu remains in the same vein as the original, the star of the new space is an open kitchen that’s home to an adjustable rotisserie and a wood-fire oven, additions that allow Pitsillides and his staff to turn out meaty new menu items as well as nightly specials.
Now with alcohol
Perhaps the biggest change at the Kanella is the liquor license.
“I’m very aware that we’re coming from a BYOB, and that’s a tenuous shift,” says Christian.
Beverage manager Ulises Robles and Pitsillides and Christian put together a wine and cocktail menu that highlights Greek ingredients and wallet-friendly wines from around the Mediterranean.
For Pitsillides and Christian, the most important thing is retaining the conviviality of the Kanella experience.
“It’s the same thing we’ve always wanted,” Christian says. “For people to eat, drink and be merry.”