Nov. 29, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A beloved Greek-Cypriot restaurant closed its doors Sunday after serving customers in Astoria for more than three decades.
Zenon Tavern, which had been in business for 33 years, posted on its website that its last day of operation was Nov. 28.
The owners of the eatery thanked their customers and said they had shuttered the business “with heavy hearts.”
“It is with heavy hearts that we have decided the time has come for us to close our doors,” the post reads. “…We don’t want this to be goodbye but rather see you later. Astoria is our home and we hope to see you all again.”
The owners said they had to close due to the challenges of running a small business.
“Unfortunately the last almost 2 years have been very difficult for small businesses like us,” they wrote on Instagram.
Zenon Tavern, which was located at 34-10 31st Ave., was established in 1988 by Stelios Papageorgiou, a chef who immigrated to the U.S. from Cyprus. He worked three jobs in order to make his dream of opening a restaurant a reality.
The business has been family-run ever since. His son-in-law ran the restaurant up until its closure Sunday.
The eatery became a popular place for Cypriots to get authentic cuisine from their home country.
“With your support, our small taverna grew into so much more — a pillar in the community, a refuge for Cypriots young and old, a home away from home,” the owners wrote to its customers.
It also became a spot for local residents to get a taste of Cyprus in Queens. Zenon Tavern’s specialties included “keftedes kypriaki,” fried meatballs made with pork, shredded potatoes and spices like mint, and “avgolemono,” traditional Greek chicken rice soup, mixed with egg and lemon.
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“For 33+ years our family has worked tirelessly bringing Cypriot & Greek cuisine to NY,” the owners said. “We hope that we were able to bring our culture, traditions and of course delicious cuisine into your lives & hearts.”
The restaurant also was a place where many local residents hosted special events like small weddings, bridal and baby showers, baptisms, birthdays and more thanks to its second-floor banquet room.
It also helped feed frontline hospital workers by partnering with the organization Frontline Food Queens and hosted virtual cooking classes during the pandemic.
The establishment was full of customers on its last day, videos and photos posted to Instagram show.
Many longtime customers said they were “heartbroken” and “absolutely gutted” to learn Zenon Tavern was closing. Several said it was their go-to spot for date nights and their constant recommendation for visitors as well as the place they’ve hosted many important life events.
“@zenontaverna my heart is kind of breaking tonight as you close your doors after 33 years,” former Astoria council candidate Evie Hantzopoulos wrote in an Instagram post. “…There are plenty of restaurants in Astoria that serve good food, but I’ve never seen one so community-minded, with the most generous of hearts.”