Among the big changes coming to Plaza Midwood comes the opening of Kiki, an intimate new restaurant developed by Soul Gastrolounge’s Andy Kastanas that will feature a rooftop hangout and liquor lounge. Set to open next month, the lounge and main dining area will be right below Soul, occupying the adjacent spaces of former businesses Twenty-Two art gallery and Alternative Arts Tattoo shop on the corner of Pecan and Central avenues.
Kastanas’s mother Angeliki served as the inspiration for the restaurant, from the name to the small plate menu with Franco-Greco roots. Kiki is slang for “a lively, intimate gathering” or “a good time,” and is also Angeliki’s nickname. Angeliki is a cook in Andy’s hometown of Athens, Greece.
“My mother is more than just an excellent Greek cook. She also loves music and conversation and creating a sense of community around the table. Greeks don’t understand the meaning of fast food, and her meals, even the humblest, were never rushed,” Kastanas stated in a release. “I’m hoping to recreate that lively hospitable atmosphere with KiKi.”
With a pocket rooftop terrace overlooking the neighborhood’s major thruway, a dining room that hosts 90 guests and a “seated only” liquor lounge aptly named Tattoo, KiKi will aim to create an approach to eating and drinking that is as multifaceted as the food and cocktails themselves, according to the release. Two of Soul Gastrolounge’s culinary creatives, Chef Jason Pound and Beverage Director Kel Minton, will oversee the kitchen and bar.
Pound plans on heavily incorporating seasonally available vegetables in his interpretations of classic French and Greek dishes. He explained that freshness and creativity are key components of the new menu.
“I’m excited to showcase the commonality between Greek and French cuisines as seen through the lens of the American experience,” says Pound. “Presentation will often come with a bit of whimsy, but never at the expense of taste.”
As for the beverage selection, Minton’s vision for the dining room includes placing an emphasis on seasonal flavors while offering a curated selection of French wines, while next-door Tattoo will offer a customizable cocktail experience using handmade ingredients.
“This seasonal lineup of draft cocktails will allow us to marry speed and consistency with curated spirits and housemade colas and tonics,” Minton said. “We will also offer spirit-free cocktails based on those seasonal flavor profiles so that all of our guests can enjoy a crafted beverage with or without alcohol.”
Kastanas enlisted the help of Scott Weaver — known in Plaza Midwood as the owner of CLTCH and founder of the locally famous Shiprocked! Parties at Snug Harbor — as an interior designer to create an atmosphere for all three spaces that reflects the spirit of Kiki. A departure from his usual bold color palettes resulted in a look that can only be described as a marriage between sophistication reminiscent of the Great Gatsby and the edge of a 1970’s rock album cover (think ACDC’s Back in Black).
“I wanted to do something in Kiki’s main dining room that I’ve never done — design with an actual absence of bright color, highlighting the food and the art without sacrificing style,” Weaver said. “I felt this small space deserved a feeling of European grandness and a play on scale, so I’ve included some elements of decor that are oversized in attitude.”
Weaver also plans on establishing a rotating art show within the restaurant, as well as incorporating a communal aspect to the space by dedicating a wall showcasing artwork from local or regional artists.