Jan 28, 2022 - News

Kiki Bistro rebrands as Sister an all-day European café

Sister Plaza Midwood

Sister Plaza Midwood. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Today is the official first day of a new chapter for longtime Charlotte hospitality veterans Andy and Lesa Kastanas.

Background: KiKi Bistro opened back in November 2019 as a dinner spot and cocktail lounge serving Greek and Eastern Mediterranean food. But the pandemic slowed the early enthusiasm, and they’ve been wondering if they should do something different with the space recently.

  • On the other hand, sibling concept and upstairs neighbor, Soul Gastrolounge which has been a staple in Plaza Midwood since 2009, has remained stable throughout the pandemic. It often has two-hour wait times.

Why it matters: Over the years, Soul has received many requests to serve lunch and now Sister will satisfy those requests.

“We thought it was the right time, with all the changes that are happening in the neighborhood, to do an all-day concept,” Andy Kastanas tells Axios.

What to expect: Soul executive chef Jay Pound and Beverage Director Kelly Minton will be at the helm of the food and drink program. They’ll incorporate popular menu items from Soul, including the lamb lollipops and Asian-glazed pork belly tacos, into Sister’s menu.

  • Sister will also serve Greek pastries like baklava and Tyropita as well as breakfast and lunch items like breakfast bowls, salads and small plates.
  • Brunch offerings are set to roll out in the late spring.

Space: As for the design, the 3,000-square-foot space saw minor interior renovations led by Plaza Midwood interior designer, artist and musician Scott Weaver.

  • Original elements from Kiki, from the signature black and white theme will remain, but new additions include a mural by Rodney Raines and a second by David Harwood.
Sister Plaza Midwood
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

Zoom out: The Kastanases are part of a generation of restaurant owners who helped build the Charlotte food scene we love today. Andy was a co-owner of Cosmos Café, which opened in Uptown in 1997 and challenged the meat-and-potatoes city by serving up international dishes and martinis.

  • Cosmos lived on until 2016 and helped give birth to several other culinary careers: Dot Dot Dot co-owner Stefan Heubner was a bartender at Cosmos, and Intermezzo owners Djordje and Branko Avramovic were barbacks at Cosmos.
  • When they opened Soul Gastrolounge in 2009, the no-reservations, small-plates restaurant became the centerpiece of Plaza Midwood’s decade-long run as one of the city’s best nightlife neighborhoods.

The big picture: Greek immigrants in general played a pivotal role in establishing Charlotte’s modern-day restaurant industry. Some of Charlotte’s OG decades-old restaurants — many of which have since closed, such as Town & Country Drive-In and Tanner’s Snack Bar — were Greek-owned, but for a long time, none served Greek food, as Kathleen Purvis wrote in the Observer a few years ago.

  • Andy Kastanas’s parents came to the U.S. from Greece in the 1950s, as Purvis wrote. But his menus have always embraced his family’s roots.

Location/hours: Sister’s exact address is 1500-A Central Ave., at the corner of Pecan and Central avenues. Hours are 9am-9pm Tuesdays through Thursdays; 9am-10pm Fridays and Saturdays and 9am-3pm on Sundays.

Here’s a look at some of the dishes:

Sister Plaza Midwood
Phyllo-wrapped, barrel-aged feta with toasted sesame seeds and thyme honey. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios
Sister Plaza Midwood Greek Salad
Sister’s Greek Winter Salad is made with local greens, radishes, fresh root vegetables, dill, scallions, and grilled halloumi cheese. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios
Sister Restaurant Plaza Midwood
Pictured is the Peinirli (a bread boat baked with bacon, kasseri cheese and egg. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios
Sister restaurant
Pictured is an assortment of Greek pastries. Photo courtesy of Sister Restaurant.
Sister Plaza Midwood Matcha Latte
Matcha. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

And a look at the space:

Sister Plaza Midwood
Sister Plaza Midwood
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios
Sister Plaza Midwood
Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios
Sister Plaza Midwood Rooftop
Sister has its own rooftop patio that overlooks Central Ave. Photo: Symphony Webber/Axios

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