By Bejay Browne
A traditional family-owned, family-run restaurant in Paphos is experiencing a surge in popularity thanks to a user-generated award of excellence via a well known website.
Kyra Frosini in Paphos is enjoying its busiest weeks since opening three years ago and while owner and chef Andri Laouri, 54, admits she knows next to nothing about the internet and social media sites, a string of positive reviews on the TripAdvisor site and an award of excellence for 2013 has helped to increase business by more than 50 per cent in just a couple of months.
“It’s amazing that I can promote my business this way. I like that customers took the time to write such nice things about my cooking on TripAdvisor.”
The restaurant owner says that she was unaware of the existence of the site until someone mentioned that the venue had its own page with a number of customer reviews.
“I didn’t know anything about it. Somebody told me that people had put that they liked my cooking and then because everybody says that they like my food and my service, they gave us the certificate of excellence two months ago.”
Since then, thanks to the positive feedback, business has increased week by week.
“In the last two months, I have had around 600 customers a month, which is the best since I opened, and George my son has now just made me a Facebook page.”
Laouri admits that although she has basic computing skills she isn’t comfortable with computers, nor does she like them.
“I usually just play solitaire on the computer if it’s quiet, I don’t really like them. But technology has helped my business so much that I know I must learn more,” she says.
But the taverna’s success is not all due to social media and user sites. Laouris large beaming smile and warm personality, coupled with the friendly, relaxed atmosphere and delicious home cooking is what has insured Kyra Frosini has managed to survive the crisis, when other establishments have been forced closed.
Laouri, a former mukhtar of Kato Paphos, has strong ties to the area.
She grew up just 100 metres away from her grandmother’ s traditional stone house which is now the restaurant and named Kyra Frosini in her honour, and spent much of her time there.
Situated down a small alleyway close to Ayia Kyriaki – St Paul’s pillar church – the restaurant is an oasis of peace in the heart of bustling Kato Paphos.
Laouri first transformed her grandmother’s house into a ladies only kafeneio in 2006, and then four years later made the necessary changes to obtain a restaurant licence from the CTO.
“My grandmother bought this house in about 1951, but it was built before that. It’s all stone and the garden is wonderful. I tried to keep the traditional style and use only stone and wood. I didn’t make very many changes,” Laouri says.
The food here is mostly traditional Cypriot with the moussaka, stifado and chicken dishes the most popular.
“It makes me so happy that some Greek customers say it’s the best they have ever had, as they understand about these dishes,” she says.
She has built up a base of regular customers who live in Paphos, many of them British, but the restaurant also attracts holidaymakers.
Laouri says the work is hard as the restaurant is open seven days a week – from 10.30am to 10pm – at the moment.
“But sometimes I stay much later because if someone comes in late – I can’t tell them ‘we are closed now’. I will cook for them,” she says.
“I cook the same as I do at home and I never use things which are low quality.”
Laouri has no formal training but learned her skills cooking with her grandmother, mother and mother-in-law.
“I took the best ideas from each and mixed them together to change the recipes a little.”
The menu is small as the restaurant’s kitchen is tiny and only has room for two gas rings. With Laouri on her own in the kitchen, she has to be well organised and methodical.
“I cook as the orders come in, so everything is fresh, I don’t cook anything beforehand, but I have to be organised. There isn’t any room to have a bigger cooking space.”
Her three children and husband help out where they can, but they all have other jobs.
The restaurant is small but has two separate dining areas inside and an outdoor space in the secluded courtyard.
The modest restaurant owner says she particularly enjoys cooking for the small weddings which are sometimes held at Kyra Frosini and loves organising parties, something she has done since she was a child.
“I love it when it’s busy. I don’t mind if I’m tired as long as the customers are happy,” she says.
And on top of all her other tasks, she’s now determined to overcome her aversion to the technology that has helped her so much.
“I will keep using technology to help the business. I want to learn more about Facebook, TripAdvisor and the internet in general. My son is helping me to learn.”
Contact Kyra Frosini on 99 456815 or www.facebook.com/kyrafrosinirestaurant