Industry veteran Dimitra Tsourianis is taking not only the cocktail shaker into her own hands, but the pots, pans and the building, too, with the opening of her new modern-fusion restaurant and bar, Daddy Jones, slated for opening in late September. We had the opportunity to sit down with Dimitra to talk about her experience (previously, in event and general management roles during her long tenure with the hospitality heavyweight, Lyons Group), why Somerville’s Magoun Square is the Boston area’s next hot spot, and, of course, what she’s drinking when she’s not on the clock.
You got your start with the Lyons Group when you were just a 19-year old undergraduate student at BU. What was that like?
I started as a coat check girl at their former Sugar Shack and Big Easy venues (now Estate), and offered myself as an unpaid intern between classes for added experience. It turned into a full-time job after I graduated, when I became the events manager. Eric Aulenback, one of the Group’s managing partners, played a huge role throughout the transition and served as a mentor for me. I left to work as a manager at B&G Oysters in 2005, which I’m thankful for since it gave me a more up-close experience with food and wine, and returned [to the Lyons Group] in 2007 when I became GM of the Liberty Hotel’s Alibi Lounge, where I stayed until 2010. Overall, my experience working with them was amazing—you develop a family vibe with the organization and customers alike, especially with long hours, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Who is ‘Daddy Jones’?
There’s a book called The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, and in it is a place called ‘Daddy Jones’ Kingdom.’ The ruler, Daddy Jones, likes to play practical jokes on people who live in his kingdom. He’s a higher-up with a sense of humor.
Somerville has heated up as a place to live and play over the past decade. Magoun Square is kind of like its shy cousin at a party. What made you choose it?
Magoun Square is between Ball Square and Winter Hill, all of which are up-and-coming neighborhoods as people get priced out of or want a change from the city. I’d compare it most closely to Cambridge’s Central Square, which has a kind of hipster, but educated, and laid-back vibe. Plus, the MBTA is working on extending the Green Line here, so the accessibility will be even greater. I grew up in Somerville, and I’ve seen the city evolve, and it’s really exciting to see all of the change.
What can guests expect when they visit Daddy Jones?
Dim lighting, loud music, good food, craft cocktails, and lots of personal touches. We’ve got a combination of new and old—some Greek food that I grew up with, modernized; and classic cocktails (like the eponymous Screwdriver, made with frozen orange juice cubes), plus a granite bar top, 1950s wooden speakers, and school lockers painted gold. I think of it along the lines of high/low dressing—lots of layers with an unexpected punch. I want patrons to feel good about themselves when they’re here, like they’ve made a new friend in the neighborhood.
Any other thoughts about Boston’s dining and drinking scene?
You don’t have to go into the city for fun. Greater Boston as a whole, and even the surrounding cities, are really starting to explode with cool places; just pick a highway, pick an area, pick a neighborhood, and see what you’ll find.
Daddy Jones is slated to open in late September 2012 at 525 Medford Street in Somerville’s Magoun Square. Check in for updates at daddyjonesbar.com.