Washington, District of Columbia 2021-10-20 14:17:07 –
October 20, 2021
In 2013, Seattle’s U district lost one of its most important businesses. The Continental Greek Restaurant and Pastry Shop closed in June after sitting on the University Way, two blocks from the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, for nearly 40 years.The news of the closure met customer’s voice From customers, many first started patronizing the business as students, faculty, or staff and returned each year.
The restaurant was owned and operated by the family Taso Lagos, Lecturer at Jackson’s Faculty of International Studies, University of Washington. He is now looking back at his family’s business and sharing recipes in his memoirs.Greek Cuisine Becomes American: 40 Years at Seattle’s Continental Restaurant, ”Will be published by McFarland this fall.
Lagos’ father and mother emigrated from Greece in 1967, became part of Continental Airlines in 1974, and took full ownership two years later. His brother Demetre began managing it after graduating from college. They worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and only took days off when the restaurant was closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. When they discussed the sale of the business, Lagos’ father and mother, 82 and 75, respectively, decided it was time to retire.
In his book, Lagos shares that Continental, which he lovingly calls “Conti,” was more than just a business for his family.
“This book is a testament to the power of the community we have found and how it has changed our family,” he said. “Conti helped my family become American. It introduced us to American society and culture, and as a result we were in a way that might not have happened otherwise. Changed and adapted to the new society of the United States. “
UW notebook I asked Lagos to share more about what Continental means to his family.
Your past book contains a biography of theater mogul Alexander Pantages and a discussion of the two conflicts of the first half of 20 years.NS-Century preacher. Why did you decide to follow them up in a memoir about your family’s restaurant?
I came across this book. I had just finished writing my first Pantages book and had some creative juices flowing in it, so I decided to write a memoir and use them. I never thought it would be a book. In fact, this was a book I didn’t want to publish. Because the closure of my beloved Conti was too painful for me. Writing a memoir manuscript was a cleansing or closure exercise for me and was intended as a way to clear my soul rather than being read by others. So, after writing it, I tried to forget it and hid it in a file on my desktop.
During that time, I undertook a historical survey of McFarland and Greek restaurants in the United States. This included my personal impressions of running my family. COVID-19 was a hit and I couldn’t investigate the survey, so I asked the publisher if he was interested in memoirs. It was published because they were.
What made Conti a special gathering place for the community?
It is very similar to the typical Greek village “Cafe Nion”, where everyone gathers and acts as a social glue for the community. That’s what my family was Conti — they brought a little bit of the village to the U district. And the customer became a friend. So when my parents retired and decided to close the store, it was very sad for us. It wasn’t one friendship, it was literally the end of hundreds of friendships.
What can people learn about the immigration experience by reading your book?
There are places like Conti all over the country that help immigrants infiltrate American culture. In fact, I can’t think of a more powerful institution than a restaurant that helps them do it. This is the importance of general Conti and Ethnic restaurants. Not only do they introduce new dishes to American society, they all benefit from us, but their owners themselves are deeply and genuinely introduced to and interact with Americans.
It’s a social contact, a life-changing thing. The customer was able to step into Conti and my mother quickly knew what he or she wanted to eat. She was a “borrowed” mother for everyone, from grunge band musicians to Bill Russell, Gloria Steinem, and Bill’s mother Mary Gates. He once told his father that his son would grow up to be a famous electrician. Immigrant restaurant owners serve the community, but in return they become part of American textiles.
It’s complicated because migrants are constantly negotiating their identities. In the decades we have been here, there has never been a moment when we didn’t ask ourselves. When and where will you cease to be Greek and become American? Even if Conti helped become an American through penetration, it’s not easy. The friendship with the customer made me feel at home in the United States, but it took time. I don’t think we noticed this until the restaurant closed.
Where are family-owned community spaces like Conti still in U district, Seattle and elsewhere, which are changing rapidly due to rising development and living costs?
We hope that community space still exists in our lives. When such space is completely gone, both new immigrants and the entire community will be poor against it. Owning and operating a small business is not easy. However, friendships and interactions such as customer growth, having children, and having children having their own children have been valuable for over 40 years. When that stops, we are no longer a community. The neighborhood becomes an airport and people just pass by.
The Jackson School’s Taso Lagos reflects on becoming American at his family’s restaurant, the Continental Source link The Jackson School’s Taso Lagos reflects on becoming American at his family’s restaurant, the Continental