Dimitri Alexis: World traveler, story teller, and restaurateur!
Dimitri Alexis, the man, the legend, the owner of Reynolds Street Bar and Grill. Okay, so maybe he isn’t quite a legend of the Greek mythology standards, but this friendly and very talkative native of Greece is certainly a legend in his own right. Dimitri came to the United States when he was only nine years old. As a young boy, he had the opportunity to learn English in a very unique fashion. While some of us, might learn the ins and outs of grammatical prose from the front row of a classroom, Dimitri tackled English by becoming a paperboy.
He recalled that, “coming from a small village I didn’t realize that there were addresses on the houses. I had an hour-long route in the Clarendon area that took me five hours because I kept going to the wrong houses. People helped me out and in six-months I had learned English.” When Dimitri wasn’t busy attending school, delivering the paper, or enjoying time with his family, he was at his uncle’s restaurant in Virginia Square. In those days, the nine year old bartender’s helper learned everything there was to know about hard work and interacting with people from all walks of life. Young Dimitri could be found shucking oysters, crushing ice, stamping wine bottles, and always chatting away.
In the years to come Dimitri’s father purchased a little diner in the Clarendon area. Dimitri recalled that, “the diner had been there since the early 1900’s. It had a very interesting mix of people that would come in. There were all of the guys from the car dealership – back then there were lots of them, even Koons. Then the American Nazi members, Hell’s Angels riders, and the taxi drivers would all come in. When they walked into the door they were just another customer and I certainly learned that you can talk to anyone so long as you are polite, friendly, and keep an open mind.”
Throughout his career in the restaurant industry, Dimitri discovered that restaurants and bars allow you to meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet, and learn things that you wouldn’t otherwise learn. “99.9% of the people [in bars and restaurants] are nice people, lots of single people that come in to sit at a bar to chit chat and then go back home nice and safe, every once in a while you get that odd ball that makes for a pretty entertaining story.”
Speaking of entertaining stories, Dimitri has enough to fill an entire novel. While some of the stories are not suited for young eyes, I will tell you of one juicy tidbit: it involves a man who walked into Dimitri’s restaurant as a ‘nobody’ and walked out as an FBI most wanted. Dimitri’s tales also include trips throughout the United States, around Western Europe, and even a trip during the early 1980’s through Communist countries.
As I listened to Dimitri regale me with stories about hitching rides through Communist areas, discovering new ways to communicate with people who did not speak the same language, and learning all the while that no matter where you are from you can always find someone to talk to, I realized that this man had lived an incredibly interesting life that many people only read about and rarely experience. It is safe to say that after only an hour or two in Dimitri’s company, I was ready to start my own restaurant adventure or hop the next plane to some far-off destination.
If you are interested in finding out more about Dimitri Alexis’ amazing life, the stories he has to tell, or simply want to enjoy the comfort of a family-friendly old-man pub inspired restaurant/bar, you should head to Reynolds Street Bar and Grill in Alexandria. When you arrive you will immediately be welcomed with open arms, discover that the art of darts can still be practiced (so long as you are 18 or older), and that Dimitri is waiting with a smile on his face, a story in his pocket, and the ability to connect with just about anyone.
Written by: Laura P. Parker