The Amazing Story of the Symi Cafe, Rhodes by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -
I'm a writer, scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am advisor to the President of Shenkar College. In the evening I write children's books, satire, and "how to" manuals ("Mel's ten tips). I'm co-founder of Ourboox and married to Ourboox CEO Shuli Sapir-Nevo.
Oct 2013
Member Since
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The Amazing Story of the Symi Cafe, Rhodes

by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג

The Symi Cafe in Rhodes is almost impossible to find. First you need to know where the “New Market” is (it’s confusing because it does not appear to be new at all). And then you find it opposite (but not close to) the public toilets.  The food is excellent, and the stories even better. This is Irene who runs the cafe with her husband.



The Amazing Story of the Symi Cafe, Rhodes by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -

Theodoris Parais, Irene’s father was the owner until he passed it on to the next generation. We happened by on his birthday!



The next day I sat down with Theodoris to hear his amazing story. His Dad, Iannis (John in Greek) fought the Italians and Germans during World War II. As a British agent. Together with the brother (Tzortzis or Andreas, he can’t remember) of famous Greek singer (from back then) Sofia Vembo.



Together with Yiannis’ brother Fotis, they hid a wireless telephone deep in a dry well near town (San Francisco) and clandestinely  communicated with the British on the activities of the Italian and Nazi troops. The Nazis suspected something and twice held a gun to Yiannis’ head. “Go ahead and shoot,” he said. “I know nothing.”

The Amazing Story of the Symi Cafe, Rhodes by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -

According to the family legend, when the Germans came to look for the telephone with their radar, a spider had spun a web over the well. Just like in the bible.


After the war, Yiannis received a concession from the Mayor for three stores. He became a butcher but lost his fingers in an accident at the shop. In 1946 one of the stores became “Cafe Symi”. Business was good. They used to prepare over 400 Greek coffees a day!





Theodoris ran the coffee for many years, and now it’s in the hands of the third generation. I asked Theodoris why his father and mother had risked their lives to fight the occupation. He answered, “Church, family and country.” Brave people indeed!

The Amazing Story of the Symi Cafe, Rhodes by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג -

So enjoy the ambience and the food and drink. Bask in the history. And don’t forget to say hello from me too!



some notes:

T’s uncle was a butcher shop trianda after ixia

It’s better to open a butcher shop, meat goes well,

After the war, the mayor said to the people in the resistance, gave your uncle three places

Father kept two one day he kept meat cut off four fingers

1946 he made this place a coffee shop,

Father ran the coffee shop, father paid rent to mayor winter and summer over 400 greek coffees a day

For small rent

Family stays poor

1999 he died

At the age of eighty

T didn’t want to work with father, went to America in 1971 stayed thirteen years, in 1984 worked with father till 1999 and till now, and daughter came when she was twelve, he gave the store to her, and lives on pension


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