Cafes-Taverns-Stores

Here we make a commemoration-mention to the trade that developed in our town in the last fifty years. It is small attempt to remember what these businesses provided to the economic, social and cultural life our village. We are all truly nostalgic today of the flowering and vibrancy that our village enjoyed in all sectors of life. Unfortunately, time is relentless and harsh and cannot be reversed. History is written once and when it is repeated it is never the same. Immigration abroad and to the large city centers of the interior from 1950 and afterwards, in search of better fortune, has not left our village untouched.

An aerial view of Vassara.

 

 

GIANNAKI’S SUPER STORE 

This general store, of the family of Georgios Galanes and his sons, Giannakes and Andreas, known to all as the “store of Giannakes,” was house in the ground floor of the Galanes home, a little beyond the town square. The store began operating in 1950 and was filled with many goods. Except for the general type and daily use items, one could also find here the fundamental medicinal supplies, for times of emergency, various types of household items, cooking utensils, embroidery, threads, fruits, toys, iron items, construction supplies, cement, paints and many other things. In 1970, however, when the whole of the village received electricity, the store was supplied with a modern industrial refrigerator, an electric meat grinder, a television and other such thing. In this way, at the store of Giannakes you could find “everything your heart desires.” From sweets, poultry, meats, fish, ice creams, fruits and whatever anyone could have imagined. All the visitors who would go through Vassaras and happened to visit this store, were impressed by the wealth, variety and sufficient numbers of the different products, and especially the few immigrant retirees, who lived then in the village through the whole year, like Sarantos Konstantakes, Georgios Theodorakopoulos, Panagiotes Michael, Tsarpalas, and others. Adjacent to the main store there was a small area, which use to be the old barbershop, which had been fashioned in good taste to a Bar/Cafeteria. Especially, in the summer months, there was much business and the store’s tables, as well as the tables of the next door store, that of Panagiotakes, would be place outside on the street, and one got the impression that they were going through the narrow streets of Plaka. At the same time, we must remember that, in the summers, Giannakes supplied the vacationers of Verroia and Tsitzina with rich and tasty fruits and vegetables. His little pickup truck, a small Datsun, loaded with crates of early Corinthian raisins, peaches from Naousa, watermelons, cantaloupes, eggplants, tomatoes and even bread, loaded to the top, with the weighing scale hung high on the truck bed, he would go three times a week to Verroia, Tsitzina and the campsite of the Monastery. The people came out to greet him on the street and waited for him as for “the manna from heaven.” The store operated until 1977, when the family of Giannakes moved permanently to Sparta, where they continued to develop a large business.

 

KALLIAVA’S SUPER MARKET

This immigrant businessman, created in the town a truly loaded store, with every kind of supplies, a type of a modern supermarket. It was fortunate that at Vassaras there was this store of Kaliavas, and I don’t think that there was a store of this caliber in any other village of Laconia. Here you could find clothes, fabric, embroidery, shoes, tools, and accessories for livestock, hunting supplies, household items, and whatever other supplies anyone can imagine. The store was housed in the ground floor of the then newly built three-level house that its owner had built when he had returned from America. At the door of the store stood, always, the dog, and with the first bark or the first ring of the bell, which was at the door and operated by battery, the store owner would come down, by way of the interior wooden staircase, which connected the store with the house, ready and eager to serve the customer. Unfortunately, the owner died, and thus, the marvelous store ended its operation. The supplies that were there, sold off by his sister Panagiota, who lived with him, and the car which he had brought from America and which he had never driven, we believe, still is in the garage which he had built especially with the house.

 

PANAGIOTAKI’S CORNER

 

The store of Panagiotakes and Arete Masgana. The store was also known as “the shop of Panagiotakes.” This is where the Vassarians gathered to enjoy their coffee, or another drink made by the hands of Panagiotakes and at the same time to listen to his cute jokes and to play a game of backgammon, or the game known as “Thanases,” or even straight poker, especially in the evening hours. This is why the store was supplied with ice cream and various other products when the village was supplied with electricity. Also, after the closing down of the neighboring store of Giannakes, the telephone was moved to that of Panagiotakes, who was ever-eager with a smile on his lips to serve his fellow compatriots, until his untimely death necessitated the closing of the store, leaving behind only beautiful memories and an irreplaceable void.

 

 

 

YIANNIS KARRA’S GENERAL STORE

This store, just as many other stores, continued the family tradition. Here you could find various kinds of groceries and greens, but also small tools, paints, nails, screws, cement and many more similar items. Also, he was an official supplier of FIX and Petrogas. Thus, Giannes, except for the fact that he served the public, with the placement of an order to Sparta, always eager, he would come around everyone’s house to change the containers of gas, as a service to his customers, but more so for reasons of safety, so that no one would be injured.

At the tables which were spread inside and outside the store,

the Vassarians would drink their coffee, enjoying nature and the surrounding square, as well as the wine, freshly drawn from the wine barrels that Giannes had in his cellar, and which his father cared for with great tenderness, but also with professional conscientiousness, our beloved Kostas Karras. When in 1970, electricity came to the village, the store of Karras was supplied with a television and large industrial refrigerator which he filled with fish, poultry, fruits, ice creams and various other items. This also close, in turn, because of the untimely death of its owner, just like that of Panagiotakes. Today, after it was renovated inside and out, it continues to operate under the direction of the family Agganes.

 

 

GEORGAKI’S CONVENIENT MARKET

To all of us is familiar as the store of Georgakes, since its owner, Georgios Masganas, practically grew up in this store, which was owned by his father, Soterios.  Today, at the store of Georgakes, except for the few grocery items and refreshments, you can buy cigarettes, nails, ropes and other similar items.  Until 1970, where there was no electric light in Vassaras, the store also sold lighting oil, for the lamps in the houses and stores.  Even today, as in older times, you can sit by the woodstove on wooden benches, especially in the winter months, and you can drink your wine, either straight

or with the frugal accompaniment of a little cheese, olives or a sardine.  However, when Sunday comes around, this place becomes packed.  As soon as the church lets out, most of the Vassarian come by to enjoy the specialty of the house, the famous cod fish with the very tasty garlic paste, which are prepared and fried by the tireless, Mrs. Tasia.

 

 

SARANTOS DACOYIANNI’S TAVERN

     


On the street that ascends toward St. George, operates for many years now, the store of the kindhearted and always eager Sarantos, continuing the family tradition, offering until today to its customers wine, beer, cheese and whatever meat is in stock in the freezer.  In older days, in this store, you could find and buy good and fresh meat, freshly butchered, because he, many times, would butcher two or three animals in a week.  The large and spacious room of the store, in the 1960’s, was used also for projecting movies, by the then travelling Laconian moviemakers, Chondropoulos and Lakiotes.

     

    MIHALIS DACOYIANNI’S BUCHER STORE

    Meat Market and Tavern of Michael Ntakogiannes, which was on the central thoroughfare, stood next to the house/shop of the family Galanes.  Here, Michael butchered incessantly the lambs and goats, and his wife, Stavroula, cooked the most tasteful and famous patsa (tripe), which was followed by several “misokeila” and many times beautiful serenades.  Unfortunately, the ravages of time imposed the closing of this store also.

     

    CHRISTAKIS PANO’S

    Coffee/Wine/General Store

     

    Coffee/Wine/General Store the family of Christakes Panos, famous as the store of Christakes.  It is in the square of the town.  After the untimely death of Christakes, it was maintained form several years his wife, Evaggelia, along with her two sons, Georges and Panteles, with great success.  The post office moved there and the municipal telephone service as well, which serve the Vassarians until today.  There, except for finding many various products, is also the center where the Vassarians, but the summer visitors also, spend countless hours playing pinnacle, “prefa,” backgammon, etc.  Today, completely renovated, it continues to operate under the management of Nikos and Ntina Stavropoulos with great success.  When you see from the square it gives you the impression that it’s a train station.



     

     

    In the afternoon big card games are take place in that store…..And when the night comes littlt by little the store is to its capacity from all kinds of people getting a taste of the delicious “paidakia, souvlakia”, tomato salad, French fries following with plenty of wine and beer till the morning hours.

     

     

     

    LEONIDAS PAPPA’S TAVERN

    Only the sign remains somewhere on the side of the back yard, to remind people of the old good times on that little store.

    Wine/Meat/General Store.  “The Klemataria” (Vine or Arbor) of Leonidas Pappas, near the well of Kaliavas and across from today’s tavern of Koutsokotsios.  In this store you could find good wine and fresh meat, with savory appetizers.  Quite often there were held there different meetings and parties, under the popular sounds of the stereo or jukebox, which was available in the store.  Unfortunately, the Vassarians did not have much of a chance to enjoy that picturesque little store, because it stopped operating when the owner immigrated with his whole family to America.

     

    Tavern and Dancing Club

    of Konstantinos Galanes

    Tavern and night club of Konstantinos Galanes, or more commonly of Koutsokotsios, which began operating from the ground level of Panagiotes Demas’ home, which the contemporary owner bought and created a most beautiful exterior night club, where, under the shade of the age-old walnut trees, the Vassarians and visitors can taste the charcoal grilled steaks, chicken and the oven roast with potatoes, and the lick their fingers from all the delicacies.  Wine and cold beer accompany necessarily this fare.  The dance floor of the store is full with young men and women, but also others who remain young at heart, who dance non-stop until the morning hours.

     

     

     

    GRIGORIS SAKELLARI’S LANTERN STORE

    The Lantern Store of Gregores Sakellares was housed under the home of its owner, which he had to rebuild, since it had burned in the years of the civil conflict.  Here Gregory, with his skillful hands, made lanterns and pokers, oil lamps and cressets and other such similar items that were used by the Vassarian to meet their daily needs.  Many went to Gregory’s store, not only for repairs, but also so they could just listen to his cute and tasteful jokes, which have been preserved in the memories of many and are repeated from time to time, offering happy remembrances.  He, in his turn, followed his fate and left us for the next world, leaving his shop to follow the fate of so many other shops.

     

    SADDLERMAKER’S STORES

    Saddlery of George Kazes and Kostas Karydes, as also that of the seasonal saddlery of George Xyggos, who came from Kastanitsa, saw many glorious days and were very useful for the town, especially when Vassaras had many work animals, mainly donkeys and mules.  George Kazes had his workplace in the hut of Nikolaos Galanes, near the gypsy place of Vrasidas Koufos, and Kostas Karydes in the hut that was in front of his house.  George Xyggos, on the other hand, had his shop in different places, like in the store of Matzanes, at Koukouna’s, and elsewhere.  Now, however, these animals have been replaced by farming equipment, tractors and cars, and only a few burros remain in the village.  After the death of the aforementioned people, no one has occupied himself with this profession.

     

    BLACKSMITH SHOP

    Blacksmith Shop/Gypsy place of Vrasidas Koufos.  This workshop of Vrasidas, known to all, worked with coal and blow tube.  He would heat the iron with fire and with his skillful hands would fashion it and shape it in any way he wanted, making various agricultural tools, like plows, pruning knives, picks, hoes, petals for animals and many others.  It was a strange site to see above his blower, and high up on the ceiling, hanging bunches of onions, which he himself cultivated at the field of Kaloeros during the summer months.  This he did, as he would say, to extend the life of the onions as much as possible.  This shop had the same fate as others.  With Vrasida’s death it died, too.

     

    Τ.Τ.Τ.


    T.T.T. The three T’s stood for, Telephone, Telegraph and Tachydromeio (Post Office).  Along with these things, it was also a tobacco shop and a newspaper and magazine store.  Small in dimensions, but great in substance, the store of Thanases Demopoulos was housed in a very spare space, in the ground floor of the house of Nikolas Laskares for many years, and finally was moved a little further down, in the ground floor of the house of Christakes.  Uncle-Thanases was a model postman, loved by all, tall, with commanding bearing, and with his pipe, full of tobacco, always in his mouth.  His pockets were always full with various packs of cigarettes, such as, Assos, Aroma, Karelia, 22, Ethnos, and many others, in order to serve the Vassarians on the street, but also so that it would not take time away from his favorite game, pinnacle, of which he was a master.  He also carried with him the mail, which he delivered no matter where it took him.  The village, then, had only one phone, first an old-style switchboard, and later one with an automatic dial, number 26544, and in the hands of uncle-Thanases lay all communications of his fellow villagers with the rest of Greece and abroad.

    Daily the bus brought from Sparta, every afternoon, the correspondence inside a khaki bag, along with the newspapers.  Quickly he sorted and put the mail in order, arranging the letters on his bench, which was full of paperwork, and immediately began the deliveries.  Even though the store always looked in a state of disarray, he knew at all times where everything was.  Even on the street, when you asked him for a pack of cigarettes, he knew in what pocket it was.  After his death, uncle-Thanases’ figure was missed by the community of our village.

    Today, the stores that are still in operation are those of Georgakes, Sarantos Ntakogiannes, Koutsokotsiou, as are the two in the central square, that of Karras, under the management of the Agganes family, and the other, that of Christakes, under the management of Nikos and Ntina Stavropoulos, which work immaculately, offer perfect service, very tasteful food, wines, beers, ice creams, various kinds of groceries, and whatever else anyone desires.  Both of these stores are true ornaments for our square and for our whole village.