An originating restaurant in Plakias, Crete 🇬🇷
Where: Plakias, Crete, Greece 🇬🇷
“Sofia [would] say to everybody come and sleep inside! Don’t stay during the night in the wind.” Konstantinos Moschopoulos said with cheer and warmth reciting the story of his late grandmother-in-law, Sofia Drymaki, and how the restaurant, Sofia, in Plakias in Crete, Greece, started.
I was in the beautiful coastal village in southern Crete for five nights. I had just finished a meal myself and was on the way back to my residence when I saw Konstantinos on the second floor balcony of his family’s restaurant cradling his baby. I asked if I could take a photo of the endearing scene. He happily obliged and a conversation shortly followed.
Konstantinos spoke of how the village—which presently has around 100-150 small residential & commercial structures—was almost bare of architectural structure in the mid-20th century. The coastal area would principally be used by shepherds and their flocks in the winter time because there was more grass than in the mountains.
In the middle of the village is a small riverbed. Sofia came from the area to the east of the river—known as Myrthios. And her eventual husband, Giorgos, came from the western side, an area called Sellia. The two would meet, marry, and it was their daughter, Konstantinos’ aunt-in-law, Virginia Drymaki, who originally principally ran the restaurant. The mother, Sofia, would cook and her husband, Giorgos, would fish in the sea. And of course, the name of the restaurant became eponymously named after the mother.
Serving what they catch
Speaking with Konstantinos was my first interaction with the family but it wasn’t my first interaction with the restaurant.
The night before I walked by the restaurant and noticed inside a painting hung at the back of the restaurant that acted as a cornerstone.
“I love this boat,” Eleni Drymaki, the granddaughter of Sophia (and Konstantinos’ wife) said to me, looking up at the painting. “I have so many memories of it.” Eleni Drymakis remembers when she was young fishing in the boat with her Uncle Efthimis and her grandfather. Eleni spoke of the sadness her uncle experienced when the boat needed to be put out of commission—a sentiment the entire family likely shared.
Today, Uncle Efthimis still goes out in the sea almost everyday—sometimes at a distance of 90 minutes from shore—with a contemporary boat and fishes. And he continues the tradition that his father, Sofia’s husband, Giorgos, started of serving to customers what the family catches.
A painting of the family’s original boat with the village of Plakias in the background. In the painting the boat is docked at the marina. That marina is still positioned in the same place today. And although the structures are more built up today, the line of buildings along the shore in the background is where the restaurant, Sofia, exists today.
Eleni Drymakis, the granddaughter of Sofia, reminisces as she looks up at a painting of the family’s original fishing boat. Since retired, the family presently fishes using a more modern boat.
The early days
The restaurant Sofia was one of two original restaurants in Plakias. The other restaurant was run, interestingly, by Sofia’s cousin, a woman named, Hara Drymaki.
The family considers 1963 as the official inception year of the restaurant but Eleni Drymaki commented to me that, practically speaking, the concept of the activities of a restaurant could have started earlier than that year.
And what started as spontaneous moments of hospitality became more formal when the family eventually started a hotel in the village. (Eponymously named after Sofia too)
The family eventually sold the hotel, which was described as being “100 metres” from the restaurant, but kept the restaurant. The hotel is still in operation today. (under different ownership and management)
Eleni Drymaki (back) sits and her mother, Maria Malandraki (front), stands in their restaurant in Plakias, Crete. Eleni is the granddaughter of Sofia. Maria, who married Manolis Drymakis, is the daughter-in-law.
The family today
Today, in addition to a few staff, many family members either operate in the business or are involved. On my visits were Eleni (granddaughter, noted above), Konstantinos (grandson-in-law, noted above), Maria Malandraki (who married Sofia’s son, Manolis Drymakis), Efthimis (son of Sofia’s; who I never met, but was out in the sea fishing during at least one of the visits). Eleni and Konstantinos gave birth to son, Aitheras. Manolis (Maria’s husband and son of Sofia, noted above)) and Virgina (Sofia’s daughter, noted above) are also both still alive. And Konstantinos’ two children from a previous marriage, Nefeli and Iasonas, were at the periphery of the restaurant often playing.
A server at the restaurant takes good care and plays with Eleni and Konstantinos’ baby, Aitheras.
Sofia is no longer alive but her spirit remains in more than the restaurant’s name.
“Last year there was a man, he was 65 years, and he remember[ed] Octopus Stafatho from Grandmother Sofia.” Konstantinos told me the first day we met.
“[The man] asked me, ‘Do you have Octopus Stifado?'”
Konstantinos warmly chuckled. And then shared his response:
“No, because Grandmother Sofia is not right now here to cook it for you. But we have still good stuff for you.”
Current grandmother, Maria Malandraki, holds her daughter, Eleni’s, and son-in-law’s, boy, Aitheras. A photo poster of Maria’s mother-in-law, Sofia Drymaki, hangs behind her.
Sofia and Giorgos’ lives have passed. But the restaurant, Sofia, continues to be run by their descendants in the the beautiful and growing village of Plakias, in Crete, Greece.