Anthos blossoms in Castle Shannon
Anthos, which means blossom in Greek, is a name familiar to anyone who frequents farmers markets in Mt. Lebanon.
The long-awaited brick and mortar bakery, Anthos Bakery and Cafe, is a dream come true for four Mt. Lebanon residents who share a special connection with each other.
Jo Frangou and her brother, Tassos Fragkos, are from Athens, Greece, where Jo was a television executive and Tassos worked in finance. Jo and Ellie Kousouli have known each other since high school. Jo introduced Ellie, a fashion designer, to Tassos and they’re married now. Jo fell in love with New York City baker Devin Atchley and got married in 2010.
A dozen years later, they’re all living in Mt. Lebanon and running the newly opened Anthos Bakery at Willow Avenue and Castle Shannon Boulevard. “It is a combination of forces and talents and passions,” Frangou pointed out.
The decision to settle in Mt. Lebanon was easy. Their friends convinced them Mt. Lebanon is a great place to raise a family. “We had visited them, and we really loved it,” said Frangou, Parkridge Lane.
“It’s such a supporting community,” said Kousouli, Shadowlawn Avenue. “I have lived in many countries and in many cities; these people are warmhearted. They take their time to know you.”
The Anthos four spent several years building customer relationships through direct contact at local farmers markets and through their online importing business.
They originally planned to open a sandwich shop in downtown Pittsburgh to serve the office crowd, but the pandemic forced a course correction. “This suits us more,” Kousouli said.
Since opening, Anthos Bakery has become a popular meeting place for senior citizens, book clubs and birthday parties. It’s a place where customers bring their kids and groups of women meet their friends. “We want to be so much more than just a bakery. This place has a vibe. You see it in the early evening. It’s such a nice meeting place,” said Kousouli.
Shortly after Anthos opened, an extensive construction project got underway on Castle Shannon Boulevard. But it’s not a deterrence. “It’s going to be beautiful,” Jo said.
You can tell a lot of thought went into the striking design of Anthos Bakery. Kousouli just returned from a trip to Athens where she checked out restaurants and bakeries with similar atmospheres.
“It’s a perfect fit for us,” said Frangou.
Kousouli points out “we have the most extensive salad menu in the area.”
Atchley’s breads and croissants are another attraction. In New York, he made baked goods for high-end restaurants. In Greece, he baked all the breads in one of the most popular pastry shops.
“We definitely have the most authentic Greek food you can find in Pittsburgh. I’m not shy!” Frangou said.
“It’s a good sign when you see Greeks coming here,” Fragkos quipped.
All four agree their chemistry is the secret to their success. They’re friends who became family. “We all respect each other,” said Kousouli. “It’s a very nice and fine balance.”
Looking ahead to the future, they would like to offer more items on the menu, be open seven days a week instead of six, and maybe even open another location.
For the time being, they’re happy to focus on serving the Mt. Lebanon area. “Let me tell you, if I were to choose another city even after New York, even after Milan, even after London and Athens, I would choose Pittsburgh because people are all that matters. I would choose it 100 percent,” Kousouli said.
Anthos Bakery, 3803 Willow Avenue, is open 7 to 5 Tuesday through Friday, 8 to 5 on Saturday, 8 to 4 on Sunday and is closed Mondays. www.anthosbakery.com, 412-533-9323