By Bejay Browne
THE HEAD of the Paphos restaurants association which recently took over a new gastronomy centre in the market area of the old town, has hit back at criticism, as its official launch has been delayed.
Fitos Thrasivoulou said that the Paphos restaurants association (SIKAP) took over responsibility for the running of the centre in April and although he understands complaints about delays, he said that everything must be in place to ensure that the centre doesn’t open one day and close the next.
“We apologise for the delays but we are working on it and moving forwards. There is a lot to organise and on Wednesday we had a meeting at the centre with the members of the municipality of Paphos, ‘Pafos 2017’ and SIKAP, to explore what we can do to organise everything properly to ensure a long future.”
The centre will promote local cuisine, culture, wine and products. Presentations showing how to make traditional dishes as well as products will also be offered. The centre will also serve as a training centre during the winter months. “We will re- train all staff such as waiters, sommeliers, bar staff and so on to ensure better services are offered for tourism.”
However, in an open letter to Paphos Mayor Phedonos Phedonas, local EDEK councillor Vasos Demetriou, who has regularly visited the area, criticised the running of the centre by SIKAP, and has asked for the matter to be discussed at the next council meeting.
“With regret I have found that the management of the centre by SIKAP is inefficient and essentially does not serve the development of gastronomic tourism. The activities of the centre on the basis of the framework of the European programme, has in no way carried out essential work to date,” he said.
“The centre is closed, the centre’s shelves are not correctly stocked,” he added.
Thrasivoulou denied this and said the centre was open daily.
“Mr Demetriou is a politician not a businessman and if he thinks he knows better than us how to run the centre, and knows more about food, then let him come and take it over. He doesn’t understand we want to do this properly and stay here, open and popular for the longevity”
The association head said that those currently involved with the centre are working alongside ‘Pafos 2017’ to promote events from October.
“There are many problems in the area which have been ongoing for years and need to be fixed. But people can’t expect a miracle overnight, it will take time. We are getting organised, but it needs money and staff, we just need time to do it properly,” he said.
Thrasivoulou estimates the centre will have around €2,500 a month running costs which will cover the wages of two full time staff and other expenses.
“We have applied to the municipality and a European programme for a licence to sell some of the products to cover the running costs, but this is not a profit making business.”
He added that businesses in the area should offer good quality and standards of products to ensure visitors are given what they want.
“We want the market to be an overall traditional experience and people need to offer appropriate goods and not Chinese imports. We also discussed with the mayor the need for other
businesses to open in the area, such as a small ouzeri, a kebab shop, and so on.”
He added that the centre had already been approved as a CTO “destination Paphos business” and will promoted in countries such as the UK on busses, in hotels and exhibitions.
A big launch complete with dignitaries is being planned for October.
“We will celebrate the opening properly and when everything is in place and we are ready.
Demetriou noted: “The agreement with the municipality of Paphos and SIKAP was tested and has proved ineffective in my opinion, and the council should decide as soon as possible alternative options for the management and operation of the centre.”