Greek Corner

The Greek Corner Placemat
The Greek Corner Placemat

When my Propapou moved to America, he bought a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My Papou was born in that house, and it is the house I later grew up in.  In Greece, the “Kaffenion” is a space to gather, talk smack, and kick back ouzo and coffee. When Greek Corner opened down the street from my family home in 1989, long after the influx of Greek immigration in the US, it filled a longstanding need in the area for not only delicious Greek fare, but for a place of community.  I grew up at Greek Corner. It's how I survived years of 9-hour dance rehearsals. During a three month kitchen renovation, Greek Corner consumption was near-daily. My friends still gripe that they can't go without running into a Leonardos. We know the staff, and they know us. Taking a boyfriend there for the first time was more nerve-wracking than meeting the parents. I learned how to pronounce Greek (food) words, and familiarized myself with Greek geography and history while we waited for our gyros and fries (thanks to the informative placemats which would, invariably, spur a lecture from my father). Greek Corner was the last place I shared a meal with my Papou, the last time I heard him joke at the waitress in Greek, the last time I saw him alive. When you’re Greek, food rules all. It’s a conduit for family gatherings, cultural education, religious observance, and any human emotion, including the feeling of being home, a feeling Greek Corner encapsulates better than any object I could think of.  

Place(s): Greece
Year: 1927

– Julia Leonardos

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more