A restaurant will be in safe hands as former Hartlepool United goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos puts the finishing touches to his new business venture.
The Greek goalie has spent the last six months working on a new eaterie in Middlesbrough, which is called Great, and is now ready to welcome diners.
The restaurant occupies a 200square metres corner unit on the bustling Linthorpe Road, at the junction with Clifton Street, and Dimi has paid great attention to detail to guarantee an authentic Greek venue.
Dimi, who helped Middlesbrough back to the Premier League last season as first-choice stopper, said: “I first had the idea to open a Greek restaurant about three years ago. I had a look around the Teesside area and thought there was a bit of a gap in the market for something like this.
“Obviously there are lots of Italian places and restaurants where you can get a good selection of Mediterranean food, but very few which are all Greek.
“People always say they love Greek food, they come back from holiday having tried lots of different specialities but they struggle to find them on menus over here.
“We will have a varied menu, there will be a takeaway option on there and we will be open during the day for people who want to grab a quick lunch.
“I just feel now is the right time to do it, the town centre area of Middlesbrough is extremely popular with a wide range of people and I’m confident it will be a success.”
His childhood pal and now business partner Nikos Pitsoulis is also involved with the creation of Great and after relocating to Middlesbrough he will keep a close eye on the venture.
Great has also created 10 new jobs with a head chef, two assistant chefs and a team of waiters and kitchen assistants.
Dimi, fondly remembered at Pool for his spell between 2003-07, added: “All of the interior is decorated in Greek style, and I have had everything shipped over from Greece. It is important to me that the whole environment is authentic.
“The design and concept was born in Greece, the head chef is Greek, as are the waiting staff. I want people to come here and think they are eating in Greece. I’ll see what I can do about the weather.
“There’s an open plan kitchen so people will be able to see what is going on back there, there’s a well-stocked bar and hopefully there will be a good atmosphere once things are up and running and people come to give us a try.”
Despite his new business venture, the married dad-of-two insists this isn’t a sign that he is preparing to hang his goalkeeping gloves up in the near future.
“I’m still enjoying my football, I enjoy going to training each morning and I still feel I have a good few years in the game as a player then maybe look to go into coaching,” he said.
“Everything just feels right about it. I love this area, it started when I arrived at Hartlepool United all those years ago and the people made me feel welcome straight away. It was the same when I signed for Boro, I class Teesside as home now.”