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The Historic Athenian Bar Where Even Frank Sinatra Had a Drink

Sinatra
Sinatra performing with Harry James at the Hollywood Canteen, 1943. – Public Domain

”Au Revoir” is a bar at the heart of Athens, whose history goes back to the middle of the twentieth century, when even Frank Sinatra visited it.

Opened by the brothers Theorodos and Lyssandros Papatheodorou on March 10, 1958 in the downtown neighborhood of Kypseli, the ”Au Revoir” has written its own chapter in Athens’ vibrant nightlife.

Generations upon generations of Athenians, as well as visitors, have memories from this beautiful and yet elegantly quirky bar.

Youth keeps going there for a drink and a chat with friends, knowing that in this exact place, their parents or even their grandparents were used to chilling out when they were young.

Stories of people meeting their lifelong partners in ”Au Revoir” are spread all over Athens. Stories of funny, carefree moments of thousands of individuals who spent hours upon hours enjoying themselves in one of the city’s coolest places.

Au Revoir in the 1960s and 1970s

What was -and still is- unique about this bar is that it has been loved by celebrities and ordinary people alike.

Hot names of the Greek singing and acting world used to go there on a permanent basis. Legends of the ”golden age” of Greek cinema, such as Vassilis Avlonitis, Kostas Hatzichristos, Maro Kontou, and Dinos Iliopoulos as well as singing icons like Sofia Vembo and the Kalouta sisters used to be there to enjoy a Saturday night next to ordinary Athenians.

The ”Au Revoir” has enjoyed the era when Kypseli and downtown Athens were the Greek capital’s most beautiful and vibrant part of the city.

It was then when the city center of Athens was very different from what we see today.

That was the era of Greece’s biggest economic boom in the post-war world. New-build blocks with thriving shops, cafes, and cinemas, shining sidewalks, and buzzing corners with younger and older people feeling the city’s vibes.

Of course, the Athenian center is very different now. Years of movement towards the suburbs, along with the financial and the refugee and migrant crises have downgraded this area of Athens significantly.

People do not go out in these places anymore, unless there is a good reason for it; and yes, ”Au Revoir” is still such a reason.

Frank Sinatra’s visit to ”Au Revoir”

There is an urban legend in Athens that Frank Sinatra used to love this place and visited it each time he happened to be in Athens.

This is not quite true, as one of the bar’s owners explained recently in an interview with Greece’s LiFO magazine.

”Frank Sinatra came here, but let’s not exaggerate things. He did not ask to come specifically to Au Revoir. The ones who accompanied him brought him here,” Lyssandros Papatheodorou said.

The owner still remembers that night, even if we are not sure about the exact date of the visit.

”He had his own drink with him; a Jack Daniels. He sat for approximately three-quarters of an hour,” Papatheodorou recalls, adding that it was just himself with two bodyguards, who sat on a table next to him.

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