It Takes a Greek Town

The plan to revive East Colfax: belly dancers, bazouki music, baklava--and blue sidewalks.

Peros believes the greatest challenge facing Greek Town will be the struggle to unite the north and south sides of the street into one cohesive unit that would be attractive to pedestrians as well as motorists. He'd like to see medians built in the middle of the street, blue-and-white islands with benches and trees, that would provide a safe haven for visitors trying to cross the manic thoroughfare. That won't be easy to do; monkeying with the street itself, which is also a state highway (U.S. 40), will involve running a gauntlet of state and local planning agencies.

Dadiotis isn't daunted by such details. He's looking positive, thinking big. Despite the current abundance of parking in the area, he's already working on ways to alleviate the inevitable traffic crunch once Greek Town takes off. He talks about running a free shuttle service from downtown hotels to bring conventioneers to Greek Town; if they go to Contos's place instead of his, so what? The important thing, he says, is to get people to come and see for themselves what's cooking: guys hollering "Opaa!" as they set your cheese on fire, parades of mustachioed soldiers in white skirts, thirty spits of lamb down the middle of Colfax. And when the new facades start showing up and other investors start sinking millions into fixing up the rest of Greek Town, the crowds will just keep growing.

"I don't care if I don't sleep at all," Dadiotis says. "I don't care what I have to do--to a point, you know what I mean. I want to see it happen. I want a history. I want to leave it nice and clean. I'm going to be dead, and the Greek Town is going to stay, and it's going to be booming."

That's taking the long view, of course. But when you're trying to squeeze three thousand years of history and culture into six blocks of Colfax, what else can you do?

Peros says it's important for the Greek community to be patient with the process of "growing" Greek Town; like they say, Athens wasn't built in a day.

"We don't want to put any pressure on anybody," he says. "We want to move this project ahead with a sense of direction and professionalism. We Greeks tend to sometimes get emotionally out of hand.

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