CODE meets Jenny Pagoni, Ampeli

Published 14 October 2020

With a background in photography and film making, Jenny Pagoni has been dreaming of opening a restaurant for years: at the start of 2020, Ampeli was born. We hear more about the restaurant, the challenges of reopening and a the similarities between a career in photography and hospitality.

For those who haven’t visited, could you summarise Ampeli in a few sentences? 

A restaurant which explores Greek wines and Eastern Med food, a journey down the eastern coastline. 

And how would you describe the food offering?  

Like the East Mediterranean coastline, our food is vibrant and variant. Ampeli always looks to bring flavours from all these areas in London, according to the season the journey is different. 

How do you ensure you stay true to Greek wine and food at Ampeli?  

For the wine I am looking to mainly include Greek indigenous varieties (such as Xinomavro, Assyrtiko and Agiorgitiko) as I think they need to be in the spotlight, there are some fantastic Greek wines and winemakers out there! 

Your background is in photography and film making. How did you come to opening a restaurant and wine bar?  

The idea has been with me for years now. I just loved going to wine bars and restaurants that made me feel at home, so creating a space that I could give that to people and showcase my newfound love of Greek wines slotted right in.  

And how has your past experience helped you in hospitality?  

Photography can be a lonely profession, but filming is very much a team based one. The understanding of communication with all different departments and people is the most important experience I took with me, and like in filming it is as important in hospitality and I am guessing in many other professions.  

You’re currently back in Athens working on a new exhibition. How do you ensure that standards stay high at Ampeli whilst you’re not there?  

Being away is never easy but having a strong team in place is a great feeling. Everyone is doing their part to keep the standards high and for Ampeli to keep moving through this pandemic. Weekly meetings and daily communication is vital. 

What was the biggest challenge when it came to re-opening Ampeli? 

Personally I think it is always the unknown factors that create the biggest challenges. When you know what the challenge is then you can make sure you prepare, the problem is when you have no idea what it will be like. The current situation is a lot like that where we find ourselves constantly adapting.  

How does the situation at the moment compare between London and Athens with regards to hospitality?  

Athens benefits from better weather all year round, outdoor spaces are plenty and people have the choice to sit and dine outside where they feel more safe. London has never had that, and it is proving difficult in situations like these, less people will go to their favourite restaurants just because they will have to sit in an enclosed space.  

Sum up a career in hospitality using three words.  

People, challenge, rewards 

Finally, if you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Delicious ripe summer tomatoes in a Greek salad with a nice portion of barrel aged feta and a grilled slice of bread and capers. 

To find out more about Ampeli, visit the website here

Ampeli now has an offer live on the CODE app. To become a member, please click here

Weekly bulletin. Eyes and ear of the industry