Business of the Month: Fresco Gelateria, 139 Second Avenue
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They grew up in South Africa and Greece, and considered opening a business in Cyprus or Dubai, but eventually the three Iliopoulos siblings found the East Village. Anna, Ilias, and Vanessa Iliopoulos own and run the popular Fresco Gelateria, on Second Avenue between East 9th Street and St. Mark’s Place, and live (in separate apartments) around the corner on St. Mark’s. “It’s a great neighborhood, and really fits us,” says Ilias, who’s come to prize the rich local history and wishes more people knew about it.
In fact, the row house whose ground floor Fresco occupies is an embodiment of local history. A Federal-style row house built in 1832-33 by Thomas E. Davis, a prolific developer, it was nominated for landmark designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2009, a move that GVSHP enthusiastically supported.
The atmosphere inside Fresco is as contemporary as the façade’s Flemish-bond brickwork is antique – yet the siblings feel an intimacy in their space that translates into happy customers and new friendships. “It really does kind of feel like a village,” says Ilias. “People are super happy that you’re doing well, and they bump into people they know,” Vanessa says of the daily scene.
Food service is a challenging business, but it runs in the Iliopoulos family, so they could hardly avoid it. Fresco started out serving just gelato and coffee, but shortly added salads, paninis, soups, and breakfast items, as well as sweet baked goods, all hearkening to a Mediterranean theme.
Each sibling has a distinct role; they work different shifts, and when they have some time off, they like to patronize neighborhood restaurants like Cafe Mogador and Cafe Orlin, or enjoy coffee at Third Rail or Box Kite. “It’s not competition: you’re supporting your community,” says Vanessa. “And sometimes you need someone to make you a coffee.”
Read the full posting on Business of the Month Fresco Gelateria here.
With GVSHP's "Business of the Month" program, each month a local, independent business is featured on GVSHP's website, blog and social media, to showcase one of our neighborhoods' great and unique commercial treasures. We hope it will increase support and patronage, aiding our local small businesses' health and viability. We're asking you, the public, to nominate your favorite businesses for consideration for our "Business of the Month." To nominate a business just fill in this brief form. See our past Businesses of the Month here.