The red doors of the old Khan’s Deli in the Rice Village have been painted a particular green that reminds Evan Turner of Greece – fitting since his long-dreamed-for Helen – Greek Food + Wine is set to open in the space on July 15. Inside, construction proceeds at a fast clip and Turner’s Facebook page yesterday resonated with excitement over a 12-foot-high wine wall, set to accommodate the 120 Greek wines on his list.
"It’s definitely going to feel like Greece, without looking like My Big, fat Greek Wedding threw up all over it," Turner said. So, if you’re expecting murals of Santorini on the walls and a bunch of blue tile, think again. Turner and co-owners Sharif Al-Amin and Tim Faiola kept the 1,700-square-foot space’s brick walls, and plan to incorporate Karagiozis puppets into the décor. The vision is part of Turner’s desire to re-create the rustic tavernas he loved so much while living in Thessoloniki for a time as a child.
"It has to be modern, since we’re in Houston and it’s 2015," he says. "But I want to keep that homey feeling of an old-school Greek space, where there’s a part dirt, part brick floor and cats are wandering in and out, and you go in and sit and read and eat for hours and nobody pushes you to leave. A tavern should be very come-as-you are, with a slightly thrown together feel."
That thrown-together feel has been five years in the making for Turner, a sommelier by training and veteran of Branch Water Tavern and Table. Also on board for the ride is Chef William Wright, another table alum, who’s crafting a daily changing menu with plenty of bite to share. As we go to press, the staff is getting a crash course in Greek food and wine, and Turner is counting down the days.
Already, the buzz on the place is big, with Zagat and the Houston Chronicle offering sneak peeks at the menu. Mark your calendars for next Wednesday, as Helen is sure to launch a thousand taste buds as this new addition takes its place in Houston’s culinary landscape.