Though Molyvos on W 43rd Street is the most recent creation of the Livanos family, who have a long legacy of operating fine Greek dining restaurants.
After John Livanos moved to the US from Greece in 1957, he worked his way up from washing dishes to running his own luncheonette in Manhattan, before moving to fine dining in White Plains and opening Livanos, now known as City Limits. Children Nick, Bill and Corina (as well as Nick’s children Enrico and Johnny) joined their father in business and helped to open Oceana, Ousia/Hudson West and the original Molyvos, located near Carnegie Hall.
Molyvos was named after John’s hometown on the Greek island of Lesbos, where the Livanos crew returns regularly to a family home retained through the years. Though the restaurant was forced to close its original location on 55th Street due to decreased foot traffic during pandemic shutdowns, Nick hopes that the eatery’s new home, surrounded by what he described as the joyfully “small town” atmosphere of Hell’s Kitchen, will be a permanent one.
In the weeks leading up to their opening, Nick said, “All I need to do is stand in front of the restaurant and — no exaggeration —person after person will stop and talk to me to ask, ‘When are you opening? We’re so excited! We’re so happy you’re here!’ I’ve never in my life experienced that neighborly of a welcome.”
For Enrico, what the Livanos family does best is focus on their well-honed Greek cuisine and cultivate a warm, intimate atmosphere, for which he believes the smaller space at the new Molyvos is the perfect fit. Another key feature of Molyvos’ new home on 43rd Street is its wine display, built to showcase the restaurant’s extensive beverage program.
“We have about 750 wines — possibly the largest Greek wine list in the world,” Nick said.
This story was adapted from the W42ST articles, "It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Down the Block!” — Hudson West Closes as Livanos Family Focus on Opening Molyvos" and "Yiamas! Greek Go-to Eatery Molyvos Opens in Hell’s Kitchen with 750 Wines from the Home Country."
“If you’re going to the theater, you go to Tony’s, ” said Dreni Kyqykaliu, the restaurant’s general manager. Those en route to a Broadway show are a good portion of their clientele, nearby office workers make up the lunch rush, and tourists pop in during breaks between sightseeing. “The blessing of being in Times Square is having all these groups come in. ”Anyone who has visited Tony’s will be familiar with their signature, massive portions of food that are meant to be shared family-style. This adherence to simple but hearty cooking is a trademark of the people that started Tony’s: the Wetansons. (They founded the now-dissolved 1950s burger chain, Wetson’s, which later merged with iconic hot dog vendor, Nathan’s Famous. ) Four generations of Wetansons have run this network of casual dining establishments that also includes Dallas BBQ. Unlike other large companies, however, Greg Wetanson, his father, Herb, and his son, Stuart, remain closely involved in the day-to-day operations and run things as a family business. Thanks to this amiable atmosphere, “Most of the management and the chefs have been here for twenty plus years, ” said Dreni, who joined Tony’s shortly after it opened in the 1990s.
When the City of New York acquired this lot to house Engine 65 in 1895, clubs and residents around the area feared it would disturb the peace. Having calls since their very first night on the job, and as the first responder to Times Square, it became clear that the service was needed and soon became wildly appreciated. One of the firemen, Chris, told me this was something he had always wanted to do. “I love the camaraderie between the guys, ” he said, a theme that seems to reoccur throughout all Manhattan fire stations.