The relaxed, family-run spot serves up café classics, with a side of charm
John Zampetoulakis, co-owner of Kokkino Café, calls on a customer by name. “Sarah, you want a grilled cheese?” She shakes her head no and he nods. He proceeds to butter her freshly popped toast and walk out from behind the counter to set her bowl of soup and toast in front of her. At Kokkino Café, table service is on the house.
Zampetoulakis and his wife, Angela Reichman, opened Kokkino Café over eight years ago. “I worked in a lot of restaurants, I made a lot of money and I said, you know what, no more. I want to do this for myself, for my kids, for my community,” said Zampetoulakis.
The spot is a family-run business- even Zampetoulakis and Reichman’s four kids participate in the action.
The concept of the café is a little different than the average grab-and-go coffee joint. At Kokkino, the customer places their order at the counter, takes a seat and the food is brought to them.
Zampetoulakis said he decided to serve his customers this way because “it’s nice and it’s relaxed—it feels like home.” Similarly, customers only pay the bill when they’re ready to leave. “They pay me before they go, that way they have time to digest their food,” he said. “When you’re done, whenever you’re done, you’ve had your experience and then you pay me.” “Relaxed” is a great way to describe the experience at Kokkino.
The café’s food is freshly made every morning by the two owners and inspired by Zampetoulakis’ Greek origins. The variety of the menu is impressive for an operation run mainly by one couple.
Kokkino offers soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts. There is a wide selection of teas, and of course, an abundance of coffee. The spot also has a variety of vegan options.
At Kokkino, accommodation is the rule, not the exception. It’s not uncommon for someone to walk in and grab an order they texted Zampetoulakis that morning.
“I know everybody that comes in here. I know what they like, I know how they like it,” said Zampetoulakis. He also custom-makes sandwiches ordered at his counter. There is an attention to detail in his work. Every interaction Zampetoulakis has with a customer is genuine and shows his compassion.
The owner’s vision for the café is focused on creating a calm atmosphere for people to enjoy their coffee and meal. He said he wanted to “create a place where people just feel they can relax.”
Customers who walks into Kokkino are greeted with a warm hello from Zampetoulakis. Dogs are also allowed inside, because, according to him, “it’s just chill. That’s what I want.”
When you go to Kokkino, prepare to be treated like family. Just don’t forget to bring your dishes to the counter before you leave.
The cafe is located at 5673 Sherbrooke Street West. The spot opens at 9 a.m. every day, and closes at 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays.