Although the banner for Sylvanna’s Restaurant has yet to be replaced, behind brown papered windows the once- vacant space has now become a construction zone.
It's a familiar location for Terry Kasotakis.
Kasotakis, co-owner of the Mediterranean Breeze in Ashburn, and his four colleagues are remodeling the existing Sylvanna’s Restaurant space to become the second location for their restaurant.
"I can't wait," said Kasotakis about the restaurant's opening. "I worked for someone else when a restaurant first opened here, now it's my own."
A HERNDON RESIDENT of 15 years, Kasotakis originally worked at the 781 Station Street location as a primary chef for Sylvanna's Restaurant.
Back then, Kasotakis prepared the food using secret recipes from home.
Although currently he spends most of his time at the Ashburn location, soon Kasotakis will be the main man behind the counter at the Herndon location.
"I do everything from scratch," he said about the Greek and Mediterranean specialties.
Although the food will be similar in theme to that of the former Sylvanna's — including different seafood appetizers, fried green tomatoes, bruschetta and "famous" pizza — the inside of the restaurant will be drastically different.
Following the theme of Sylvanna's open kitchen, but with expanded and updated equipment, guests will still be able to watch food preparations.
In contrast to the old restaurant, Kasotakis and his four co-owners — Rick Loop, Stefanos Araviakis, Nick Samiotis and Andreas Vassilas — have been working hard to expand the upstairs of the building, adding murals of Mediterranean-style villas to the walls.
"It's going to be more open," said Kasotakis, "more family friendly."
Steven Mitchell, manager James Building Development LLC — owner of the building, said after Sylvanna's was shut down — due to months of unpaid rent, totaling more than $45,000 — he waited until everything was settled, before finding a new tenant.
"After all that, I had been contacted by various owners wanting the space," said Mitchell, also a Town Council member. "But, I talked to Terry about expanding his restaurant and I think it's a great fit to be back in town."
Mitchell added he received numerous citizen comments that the new Station Street business should also be a restaurant.
"The cuisine was sorely missed and we're filling that niche again with Mediterranean Breeze," he said. "It's like we haven't missed a beat."
THE FIVE co-owners had been wanting to expand, and said the Herndon location was the best fit.
Loop, who grew up down Station Street from the restaurant's new location, said they wanted to build something the community could enjoy.
"We'll have the same appeal and the same menu as the Ashburn restaurant," he said.
"The Mediterranean Breeze in old Ashburn draws a lot of Herndon people," said Kasotakis about another reason why they wanted to open in Herndon.
In addition to Kasotakis' return to the Herndon location, his partner and friend of 22 years, Vassilas, will also be returning.
"We worked together in the old Sylvanna's," said Vassilas. "Things come around and we've ended up here together again."
While the restaurant is currently in its construction phase, Kasotakis said its final look will have a Mediterranean feel with stucco walls, murals, blue ceilings painted like the sky and a gas-fireplace up stairs.
Samiotis, co-owner and contractor, said the upstairs of the existing building will also be much different.
Although the existing bar has been removed, a new bar will be constructed to maximize open space and limited outside seating will be placed on the narrow verandah upstairs.
"You're just recreating a much better atmosphere and bringing Terry back here too," said Mitchell about the restaurant. "I didn't realize it, but [Sylvanna's absence] left a void that was felt be various people here."
Slated to open the end of April or first of May, Kasotakis said Mediterranean Breeze will host an open house to bring in residents and neighbors for the celebration of the spring and summer seasons.