September 25, 2018

Meze Greek Tapas buys former drug-laundering restaurant for $525K

Photo | Zachary Comeau
The former Chameleon restaurant has been sold to Meze Greek Tapas.

For nearly a year, the vacant space at 166 Shrewsbury St. in Worcester offered Meze Greek Tapas a prime opportunity to move a few doors down and expand.

When the property marred by a drug and money laundering conspiracy was put on the market by the federal government, Panos Georgiadis of Meze Greek Tapas Bar and Grille seized on that opportunity.

According to property records, Meze 166 Shrewsbury Street LLC, an entity controlled by Meze owner and Panos' father Sotirios Georgiadis, purchased the property Tuesday for $525,000.

That's $14,000 less than what the government's asking price of $539,000 after it seized the property from Kevin Perry, the former owner of the Usual and the Blackstone Tap in the Canal District who pleaded guilty to operating a drug money laundering scheme using those establishments.

The Greek family-owned business now seeks to revitalize the vacant restaurant by transplanting its operation to its neighboring building but with a more upscale vibe, said the younger Georgiadis.

The focus will still be on Greek tapas, but the restaurant aims to add some higher-end plates, a larger wine selection and imported beer from the Greek island Santorini.

All together, the space is about 800 square feet bigger than the Greek eatery's current space, where it is below three stories of apartments.

It'll take about two months to renovate the space, and the restaurant will stay open in its current location up until it opens the doors to the new space, Georgiadis said.

"We want to make it look like the restaurants in Greece," he said.

With only two unfinished two-bedroom apartments sit above the vacant restaurant space, Georgiadis hopes to eventually offer live music at the new location.

According to Georgiadis, Meze was one of seven bidders for the space. More than 20 different entities scoped out the place, he added.

At least one of them was the team behind deadhorse hill. Chef Jared Forman told WBJ last week the asking price was too steep for the team to make an offer.

On the past legal problems at the location, Georgiadis said he hopes to eliminate the cloud that hangs over the restaurant and Shrewsbury Street restaurant scene.

"It really stinks when you have someone like that go and screw up the reputation for what restaurants are," he said. "We just try to provide a hospitable dining experience."

Perry was sentenced in May to 14 years in prison for drug and money laundering crimes and was ordered to forfeit his restaurants to the federal government.

His wife Stacey Gala and former business associate Joseph Herman have also been charged in the saga and their cases are currently awaiting a resolution.

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