Monday, 24 August 2015 13:08

Limassol’s first crowd-funded cafe

Maria Vasileiou and Stelios Antoniou Maria Vasileiou and Stelios Antoniou

An entrepreneurial young couple has turned the crisis on its head and is crowd-sourcing the funds to open up their own café in old Limassol town. Fed up with years of underemployment, the Antonious are offering donators credits for food and drinks in exchange for upfront capital to get their project, Kafenio Allospos, started.

Crowd-funding is the practice of subsidising a project though monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. It is a form of alternative financing that has blossomed outside of the traditional financial system.

Knowing that Cyprus’ ‘traditional’ financial system was not likely to provide a loan for their traditional café, young couple Maria Vasileiou and Stelios Antoniou took matters in their own hands. Maria says she has wanted to have her own café as long as she can remember. “Even back in high school, I used to always say, ‘When I have my own café…’” she laughs.

Tired of freelancing

Vasileiou studied to be a graphic designer. Not finding regular employment, she has been freelancing in the field, trying to complement her income with various other small jobs. “But basically I have been unemployed for four years now,” she explains. Husband Stelios works as an architect.

Since marrying, they have not been able to generate the sort of income that would allow them the financial stability to start a family, so they decided to take the brave step into self-employment.

According to the project’s description on the Kickstarter crowdfunding webpage, ‘The idea is to create a space – a café – where the Cypriot tradition meets the modern way of life. It will be called ‘Allospos’: the other way.’

The initial idea came when Maria and a friend were sitting in a café that was playing Rembetiko music and were wondering why they’d never been to a place that plays traditional Cypriot music.

Revival of traditions

At their Kafenio Allopsos, the couple says they will be reviving Cypriot music, drinks and art, combining tradition with a modern approach by, for example, using Zivania in cocktails.

They say everyone will be welcome, “We also hope to introduce foreigners to our traditions, have them spend time, play backgammon with us… It’ll be a fun place for everyone to come and relax.”

Maria says that in recent times, quite a few people have been opening Cyprus-style cafés (kafene), because it is easier to obtain an operating licence for a kafene than for a café or restaurant, which needs a different and more expensive permit to serve warm foods and different coffees.

However, she believes there is nothing very ‘traditional’ about these places. Maria’s great-grandfather had a kafene in Armageti (Paphos) and she remembers her grandmother telling her about it and enjoying her stories about how things used to be done. Allospos is planning to do things the “real traditional way”.

It was not in the couple’s initial plan to ask for money directly, but Maria managed to convince Stelios and they went ahead, hoping that their friends could help them by pre-paying for their coffees through the site. Maria says the idea has taken off and support has been great since the project’s launch at the beginning of July. It turns out there are also many people who prefer to donate offline, so vouchers have been printed, with the monetary goal for the opening having been set at €5,000.

How to help

Donations can be made for €5 just to help, €5 to pre-pay for 2 coffees, €10 for two Zivania cocktails, €10 for a bottle of ice cold Zivania, €20 for a Cyprus platter, €30 for a platter and a bottle of Zivania, €50 for a cocktail named after you, plus 3 drinks, €80 for an exclusive pre-opening party, including all drinks and food.

“People have come forward in a way we did not expect,” Vasileiou says, only offering to pre-pay their drinks and donating actual items like furniture and offering to help once there are enough funds to set up the café. The couple is currently deciding between two venues in old town Limassol.

The project can be supported via or by contacting Maria via their Facebook page ‘Allospos’ or at 96 652 607. Maybe its success will encourage others to also work more with that ‘community spirit’ that is still strong in Cyprus.

As published in The Cyprus Weekly of August 14th 2015  


Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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