Dimitra Tsourianis was very active in the community growing up in Somerville, so it makes sense that she’s back in town. Back then, Tsourianis was the captain of the track team and the vice president of her class at Somerville High School, now she’s the owner of newly opened Daddy Jones, a hip Greek-inspired bar/restaurant in Magoun Square.
“I was very involved in all things Somerville,” Tsourianis said of her early days in the city where she was born and raised. It was during that time organizing events for her church and the school prom that Tsourianis discovered her love of party planning.
“I thought, ‘How can I provide people with a good time and a way to make a memory,'” Tsourianis said. So she trekked across the river to attend Boston University’s hotel and restaurant management program.
In the years that followed graduation, Tsourianis bounced around the Boston restaurant industry. She was working at a bar near Fenway Park when the Red Sox won the World Series and went on to manage B&G Oysters, where she learned a lot about the importance of good food and a pretension-free atmosphere.
Tsourianis also ran OM Restaurant in Harvard Square when it first opened. She went on to work at Alibi at the Liberty Hotel, but after three years felt an itch to strike out on her own.
“I always wanted to open my own place,” Tsourianis said. She looked at potential locations for her bar/restaurant all over Cambridge and Boston when her real estate agent suggested she check out the former Lil Vinny’s space in Magoun Square. It felt like serendipity to find the perfect venue right in her home town, so Tsourianis jumped at the chance to take over the property.
“My whole life my family is talking about how Somerville is coming around,” Tsourianis said. “Now I’m a part of it.”
Daddy Jones officially opened on November 1, but the plans have been in the works for a while. First on the agenda was clearing out the old and putting in the new. This included removing low, dark drop ceilings and opening the space up with a long bar. The room’s main feature is a set of gold lockers on an eggplant purple wall.
“Everything was picked around the lockers,” Tsourianis said. Daddy Jones’ dark brown wood accents, soft gray floor and dim, candlelight make the space feel sexy and cozy.
Tsourianis knew she wanted to create a cocktail bar, but keep things fun and light-hearted and that’s exactly what she’s done. From the Grey Hound (Barr Hill Gin, grapefruit, thyme and honey) to the Grape Crush (Pierre Ferrand Cognac, grapes, framboise, lemon, topped with cava, served up), the drinks are innovative and delicious and totally unpretentious.
Daddy Jones also offers a terrific selection of local beers, from Pretty Things (Somerville) and Jack’s Abbey (Framingham) to Harpoon (Boston), there’s a little something for everyone.
“You don’t have to go far to find good stuff,” Tsourianis said.
As for the food, most harkens back to Tsourianis’ childhood, with lots of Greek influence … with a twist. For example, there’s smoked herring served with grilled romaine, a new take on the classic smoked herring Tsourianis loved as a child. And let’s not forget the bread–soft, white, chewy, delicious–it’s baked fresh daily.
“It’s a very Greek neighborhood thing to do,” Tsourianis said of churning out fresh bread each day.
Prior to meeting Tsourianis, I was very curious how she came up with the name of her restaurant. To set the record straight, it’s not named after her father, which is what many people think.
Instead, she got the name nearly a decade ago from The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. In the book, Daddy Jones is a ruler that likes to play tricks on people. So while he’s the boss, he’s sort of cheeky and good-natured. Tsourianis plans to put the story of Daddy Jones on the wall of her bar to share the tale with others.
While Daddy Jones has only been open for a short time, Tsourianis is already feeling lots of local love.
“People in Magoun Square really care about the neighborhood,” Tsourianis said. “Everybody has been so nice. People are happy to have a walking distance place. The neighbors here are really cool.”
And Tsourianis is extra happy to be participating in the new growth and development in her hometown.
“Every square in Somerville has turned around,” Tsourianis said. “It’s cool to be a part of something that’s happening. There’s all these really cool people doing all these interesting, cool, innovative businesses. I’m excited to be in this world.”
And if early reviews are any indication, Somerville is awfully glad to have Tsourianis back too.
525 Medford St.
Tuesday-Saturday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Sundays 10 a.m.-midnight