In September of 2007, father and son team Leo and George Christakos fired up the ovens on the corner of Windsor and Almon, and a great neighbourhood cafe was born. From the start, it was clear the Brooklyn Warehouse was getting it right where its predecessor Vivo had not---in the kitchen---and, rising to meet a growing demand for more from its regulars, the cafe quickly morphed into something of a more traditional restaurant. “We committed an ear to the ground,” says George, the front-of-house face of the operation. “We were simply responding to what the neighbourhood wanted.” That neighbourhood has appreciated the effort, coming out in droves, and crowning the Brooklyn Warehouse this year's Best New Restaurant.
When considering its almost instant success, George, whose family has been part of the local food scene in one way or another since arriving from Greece in the 1950s, points to a long legacy of entrepreneurial spirit and an ability to adapt to the ever-evolving tastes of the market. “Consumers are so much more educated now than they were when my grandfather first came to Canada,” he says. “Their expectations are higher.” Clearly, the Brooklyn Warehouse is meeting those expectations, offering very good food at a reasonable price in a relaxed coffeehouse-meets-bistro environment. And according to George, the location has a lot to do with it.
When you're outside of the downtown core, away from the concentration of other restaurants, away from the competition, you've suddenly got the space to really step back, and take a fresh, modern approach to what you're doing.” A veteran of the downtown food scene and local organic catering company Terroir, George spent years driving by the building his restaurant now occupies, thinking about what a great location it was. “This is a fantastic neighbourhood. It's part of the old Halifax---there's a long history here, and a wide spectrum of people.” People, it seems, who can't get enough of the Brooklyn Warehouse. “They've shown us a lot of love,” George admits with a laugh. “Some of our regulars we see three, four times a week. We filled a void in the market, and honestly could not have been more thrilled with the response.”
As for the food itself, George and Leo make an effort to source from local producers, winemakers and breweries, shopping at the farmers' market on Saturdays, and buying in small batches to ensure everything they offer is fresh. In the kitchen, Leo has assembled a team of talented cooks with a passion for what they do, and the result is a modern menu made up of what George calls “North American classics with a Mediterranean influence, and the odd bit of Asian flair.” It's good fare---the community demands no less. And despite the success of this last year, the vision is not yet complete. With a new summer menu on the way and plans for an evening entertainment series in the works, this Best New Restaurant promises to be a great neighbourhood haunt for years to come.
1st Runner Up: It’s All Greek To Me, 6196 Quinpool Road, 406-3737
2nd Runner Up: Morris East, 5212 Morris Street, 444-7663