- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Pete Gouskos wanted to be in Greece for the Olympics.

Instead, the owner of the Parthenon Restaurant and Chevy Chase Lounge had to settle for a preview of the Olympic spectacular — visiting the new stadium and driving on the new roads — when he visited his native country for his niece’s wedding earlier this month.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I was really impressed.”

Since Mr. Gouskos couldn’t attend the games, he brought the Olympics to his Greek eatery.

Both the Greek and 2004 Olympic flags hang outside the restaurant on Connecticut Avenue NW. Miniature Athens 2004 Olympic flags are placed in centerpieces around the restaurant. The TVs in the bar, including a big-screen plasma TV, are tuned in to Olympic coverage.

The Parthenon has a special connection to the Olympics.

Mr. Gouskos’ great-great uncle, Miltiadis Gouskos, won the silver medal in shot put in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 in Athens. His picture is on the back of the Parthenon’s special menu saluting the Olympics.

Times have changed. Greece was not represented in the men’s or women’s shot-put finals yesterday.

But native Greeks are thrilled the Olympics is in Athens.

“They are back in Greece — where they belong,” said George Karras, the Parthenon’s part-time manager.

The Summer Olympics has been good for business. Over the weekend, the bar was packed with patrons watching the events.

But those crowds didn’t compare with the hordes of people at the bar during soccer’s European Cup when Greece beat Portugal July 4th.

“It was a zoo here,” Mr. Gouskos said.

The Greek men’s Olympic soccer team, a different team than the European Cup champs, lost to Mexico on Tuesday.

Mr. Gouskos expects to see more crowds cheering on the athletes as the Summer Olympics continues through Aug. 29.

Mr. Karras says he still supports his homeland’s athletes, despite being in the United States for 53 years.

“We’re rooting for the Greeks,” he said “I’m proud to be a Greek, but I’m proud of this country, too.”

Through yesterday, the Greek team had won two gold medals, in men’s synchronized diving and judo, and one bronze medal in men’s weightlifting. The American team had won 10 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals.

In the months leading up to the 2004 Summer Olympics, many international observers were concerned Athens would not be ready, with construction setbacks for some of the venues and a price tag that could reach $12 billion.

“The number-one question I got up until the Olympics started was ‘are they going to be ready,’” said Michael Harrison, a bartender and Mr. Gouskos’ son.

“I told them we did everything first, so we can’t let anyone down,” he said.

“The pressure was on and we delivered.”

“No one believed the Greeks could do it,” Mr. Karras chimed in. “They surprised the world, didn’t they?”

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