Chris Vassiliades did not have an easy time of it when he was born in 1974. At that time his parents were living in Famagusta in eastern Cyprus, and within a few months the whole family was forced to flee from the Turkish invasion. They came to Paphos because this was his mother’s home town.
Maybe it was this unpleasant start to life which persuaded Chris to compensate by seeking joy and happiness in his professional life. These days he is very much the happy public face of the Moonlight Snack-Bar and Tavern just off Bar Street in Kato Paphos. He works there with his Dad, Tasos, and his brother, Andreas, who does the cooking. But it’s Chris who comes across as the life and soul of the party. No matter what you order at the bar, he will affirm your decision with a heartfelt, “Excellent Choice!”
“What do you enjoy most about working in this bar?,” I ask. “All of it,” comes the reply immediately. “I like to see everyone happy, and that goes for the staff as well. Also I want my customers to become my friends. People need friends. They can eat and drink in any number of places around here,” he says, “but our unique feature is that in here, people don’t feel like customers, rather they feel like our friends.”
To illustrate his point, Chris uses an example from the Greek language. “The word for clientele in Greek is η πελατεία “ee pelatia” which is a female noun. And like it is with any female,” he says, “if you give your clientele attention and respect, then you will get a good response.” This is his philosophy, and being Greek himself, he really enjoys delving into the ins and outs of thinking with philosophical ideas.
Chris’s other big love is to travel around. He likes going abroad to other Mediterranean countries (Spain, Italy, Greece), and he enjoyed several happy years studying business at university in Salonika in Greece, and then doing an MBA in Hull in England. But his real heart is for his home island. “There is so much culture here in Cyprus,” he says with passion. “You should go and see the Archeological Park in Paphos. They have the biggest mosaic in the whole Mediterranean. There you can see the faces of Pyramus and Thisbe, the two lovers whose myth inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And then there’s Aphrodite’s Rock, a magical place,” he claims. “The seawater stays cool there, even on the hottest of days.” I add that this is good to know, considering how many hot days we’re having this summer.
Finally we return to the Moonlight Snack-Bar and Tavern. Chris has now been working there for 20 years and he spends so much time there that he considers that he’s married to the place. “So what is the best food I can order here?,” I ask. “Everything,” comes back the reply, “otherwise I wouldn’t serve it.” There are many specialties on offer (Kleftiko, Stiffado, Moussaka), each one according to the particular day of the week. But one thing you can know for sure, you’ll be made to feel like a friend at the Moonlight.