The story of Avra starts in the coastal Greek village of Nafpaktos where our cofounder Nick Tsoulos was born and brought up. Nick, his father and uncles would regularly fish for local seafood such as fagri, dorado, octopus and red mullet.
They feasted on what they caught over long and relaxed family dinners. “We would either grill the fish over charcoals or slice it thin and drizzle it with olive oil from our family farm, lemon and salt,” recalls Tsoulos. “Along with the fish, we ate salads made with produce from our garden, spinach pies and other hot dishes that my grandmother cooked. The adults also drank plenty of great local wine.”
Tsoulos never forgot these beloved culinary traditions when his family immigrated to Astoria, in Queens, New York. After opening several restaurants including a Greek taverna on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 1990 called Trata, he was inspired to create a spot where he could bring a taste of Nafpaktos to New York. “There was nothing like it out here- simple Greek dishes made with the best ingredients and incredibly fresh seafood,” he says.
Avra brings that vision to fruition. In collaboration with Marc Packer and Nick Pashalis, the first location opened in 2000 on East 48th Street in Midtown East. After 16 years of continued success and a loyal following, a second Avra debuted on East 60th Street and instantly became a go-to for titans of industry and celebrities.
Today, the Avra footprint continues to grow with locations in Beverly Hills, Miami and Rockefeller Center and is a place—some might say the place—to enjoy beautifully prepared Greek food as well as a great time.