end of an era
In early winter Tony, Jessica and I decided to put The Good Table up for sale. It was a decision we have tossed back and forth for many years, one of us or two or all three of us would balk and ‘say no, not time.’ Well, we finally got 3 cherries in a row, we collectively decided it was time. We are currently under contract with the first people that saw the restaurant, local people and a fine chef indeed. We aren’t able to tell more details yet. But we plan to be here through strawberry season and into blueberry season, but alas we’ll be gone before apple season.
We’re going to stop selling gift certificates and please, please if you’ve got any come use them. These next few months will be a long slow good bye to the best coworkers and family (that’s all of you) ever. Sorry for the shock, but hasn’t it been grand? Thank you so much. much love Lisa
Mother's Day is coming ...
Mother's Day is truely a favorite at The GT. It is like the Super Bowl of the
restaurant world. We have a great staff on that day, we have taken limited reservations leaving the majority of the dining room open for walkin business.
We will have coffee available on the front porch for you if you have to wait for a table, I wont lie, you probably will, but the sun is forecasted to be out and the vibe will be good. We look forward to welcoming your favorite mom, auntie, grandmother. xo
February 28th, 2023
we'll be closed for our annual winter break March 13th through March 21st, reopening Wednesday March 22nd, rested and hopefully tanned..
Tony's path to The Good Table
My father and life long business partner just celebrated his 90th birthday. Anyone who knows Tony would say, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’. He hardly acts his age; my mother recently told him she hoped he would grow up someday.
Last fall on a road trip up to Owls Head I listened to a podcast about how people got into the food business, but more specifically how Greeks got into the trade. It got me wondering where our ‘food’ roots started. How we ended up here at The Good Table. My parents and I had a few days together so we spent time tracing my father’s work path, it’s converged with my mother’s, with my own and lastly with his granddaughter Jessica’s.
To say Tony is a hustler would be an understatement as his work history reveals. Not a Ponzi scheme hustler but a hard working man with an idea, vision, fearlessness, tenacity and the ability to get up after a fall. It all began when as child Tony shined shoes for his father’s shoe store. His father Peter Kostopoulos an immigrant, planted the seed of entrepreneurship for Tony and future generations.
At 21, his brother Alex owned a line of canteen trucks, delivering coffee, donuts, hot and cold sandwiches to factory workers, office workers, etc. Tony drove a truck for a year, and there was beginnings of the food trade for him. He then opened a breakfast lunch counter at Boston Fruit and Vegetable Terminal where he single handedly served over 500 cups of coffee daily, along with breakfast, pastries, sandwiches to truckers from all over the country. He claims this where he learned his hustle. I was just a little one when he worked from dawn until noon, he’d come home and take me by the hand and ask if I’d like to go somewhere, of course I did. It was always a nap. One of my fondest early memories. After 10 years, the terminal relocated out of the city.
Ever the risk taker, he opened a restaurant in Harvard Square called The Club House it sold club sandwiches, 48 varieties. This business model was not destined to survive; at the GT we only sell one club sandwich, they take time to build! My mother recalled a story of being left there one lunch by herself, she was ‘in the weeds’ to say the least with a line of customers and 48 possibilities. The Club House closed after 6 months.
In 1969 we moved to Maine, my mother’s home state. My parents opened a retail store called International Cargo. It was a Pottery Barn/Crate & Barrel/Pier One long before they were. It was a fantastic mix of housewares, baskets, local jewelry, smiley faced pins and black light Janis Joplin posters. My parents were actually responsible for bringing the first smiley faces to Portland. My parents opened three different locations but ultimately closed them after 5 years.
The next roll of the dice was a restaurant located on Congress and Free streets called Tony’s Place. My parents worked hard building a classic breakfast (the birth of Tony’s hash) and deli and then later, in the back of the space, a Greek restaurant called Zapion Taverna. The Zapion was far ahead of its time for Portland Maine, there were few ethnic restaurants much less, ones with live greek music and belly dancers. The vision my parents had to bring a piece of Greece to Maine resulted in a magical place. Both my brother and I were introduced to the restaurant trade there. Sadly the city tore up both Congress Street and Free Street for a new sewer system and it took its toll on a lot of local businesses. Tony’s place and The Zapion closed, but Bacchus stained window lives on in the GT bar.
Next, Tony headed to Boston to work with his brother while Mom started her own career with Mary Kay Cosmetics. After years of weekend visits and living apart, he came home. Tony then started a flower business wrapping single roses and baby’s breath in paper and selling them to convenience stores, ahead of his time once again. Next, he worked as a ‘turn-key prison guard’ the first time I had ever seen my father work for someone else.
In 1986 The Good Table was born. My father approached the owners of The Seoul House, a Korean restaurant that was where the GT sits now. With no money to outright buy the property and no backers, he made a deal, tossed the dice. He asked me to be his partner, he’d make me a star he said. The rest is history.
My take away from the weekend I spent peppering my father and mother with questions, is that my father was fearless. Chances were taken, bets made, empires built, empires lost. The entrepreneurs are the thinkers and the doers, not the movers and the shakers. My father took risks time and time again. I fear in today’s world it is much harder, if not impossible, to build a business from the ground up without investors, partners, banks. Could it be that the wild west of sorts barely exists anymore, where common folk could imagine, dream, build a success with just blood, sweat and tears? I asked my Dad if he felt those days were over and he wholeheartedly said yes.
So that is the road to lead us to this moment. I am thankful he taught me all he learned over the years. He and my mother made entrepreneurs out of both my brother and me. And we in turn have passed on the desire to work for oneself to the next generation.
‘the cure for anything
is salt water..sweat, tears or the sea’ isak dinesen
Another year passed, 2022 was a great year at the restaurant. Everything seemed to be settling into place after a couple of interesting years. 2022 ended with a sigh of relief, the ‘new world’ quieted and the old rhythm returned. We are so grateful for the fortune that was bestowed on us in the past few years.
Thank you to all those who visited us in the last year. A huge thank you to our regulars who bring smiles to our faces and warm our hearts with your support and love. Another BIG BIG thank you to our coworkers. The kitchen is held together with such dedication to the job of feeding people good honest food. Food is comfort, passion, curiosity, both bold and subtle and so much more. Sharing what we have cooked is everything to us. Our front of the house, led by Kaylin, the truly friendliest person in Maine, is the best, simply the best. They are dedicated to feeding both your body and soul with food, conversation, smiles, hugs and that ‘where everybody knows your name’ feeling.
We are blessed. Cheers to the year ahead and all the ones past.
‘the cure for anything
is salt water..sweat, tears or the sea’ isak dinesen
jessi and lisa making the Christmas bread..
holiday sweets, time to order