The restaurant empire of Giorgios Bakatsias continues to grow.
On the same week the prolific restaurateur announced the opening of his latest project, Asian restaurant Krill in Durham, Bakatsias revealed plans for yet another local restaurant.
Niko, a Mediterranean concept, will open in Durham’s retooled Brightleaf District early next year.
Bakatsias currently has three other Triangle restaurants in the works that are expected to open this year — Las Ramblas and Giorgio Pizza Bar in North Hills and East End Bistrot in Raleigh.
The new Niko will be a revival of sorts at Brightleaf for Bakatsias, who previously had the Greek restaurant Taverna Nikos until 2011.
“We’re excited to revive a restaurant in Brightleaf Square; we’re evolving our original concept in response to the neighborhood today, which has flourished and become very multicultural,” Bakatsias said in a news release. “We’ll be exploring the wonderful overlap of rich cuisines from Greece to surrounding eastern Mediterranean countries — and look forward to honoring them in this historic building.”
Brightleaf Square was once Durham’s restaurant and retail heart, but that gaze has shifted further downtown in the past decade, leading the historic tobacco warehouses to see more closings than openings. That trend that continued over the past two years as the district was sold to Charlotte-based Asana Partners.
Now Brightleaf is in the midst of a major overhaul and has attracted trendy national chains to help lead its revival, including the popular pizza and burger brand Emmy Squared and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which opened this spring.
In his 30 year career in Durham’s restaurant scene, Bakatsias has seen the peaks and valleys of Brightleaf and is enthusiastic about joining its return to prominence.
“I like to see it be a nice village for restaurant and some shopping experiences,” Bakatsias said in an interview. “It’s a place where people gather, and I think we’ll bring enough energy to get to that direction again.”
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