Dimi’s Goal is Great Greek Food

Boro keeper Dimi Konstantopoulos has opened a Greek restaurant in Middlesbrough. GREAT, serves modern Greek food in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Sited on the Clifton Street corner of Linthorpe Road it is right, bang in the heart of the restaurant and night life sector of Middlesbrough’s main drag.

Nestled beneath student halls and just over the road from the big Weatherspoons pub, Swatters Carr, Dimi Konstantopoulos could not have picked on a better location for his new restaurant, opened with childhood pal and business partner, Nikos Pitsoulis. Nikos has relocated from Greece along with the head chef. But 10 new posts have been filled locally.

But if you are thinking that this is a sign that Dimi is slowing down and looking towards retirement then think again as he reveals to us in his interview, hanging up his goalkeeper’s gloves is the furthest thing from his thoughts. Dimi arrived here as third choice keeper and now four seasons later he is waiting his turn again from the same position. Give him a chance and he fully intends to pounce on it.

Last week I joined media people and had a chance to sample a little food. Apparently you are pick and choose main courses now that the restaurant has opened. The menu opens with a choice of Greek starters from Tzatziki to Htipiti – that is fest cheese spread with chilli peppers. All £3.95.

Main dishes start with Pork Yeeros £11.90 to Whole Roast Chicken £10.90 and special club sandwich £12.95. There are three Greek salad options and then a selection of wraps and burgers, including Sovaki skewers. Oh and don’t worry there are chips and side dishes. And desserts for a fiver. Plenty of options to try.

Greak Food

Anyway, I plonked myself down at a table with Dimi and fired some questions in his direction about the restaurant, Boro and himself.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your restaurant. A lot of us will have travelled to Greece and the Greek islands and sampled the food but could you tell us a little about the food in Great please?

Dimi: This is traditional cooking that you find everywhere in Greece. It can be a take away or you eat a sit down meal, there are places like that everywhere in Greece. It includes a lot of variety of different meat cooked in different styles and salads. I think it fits very well to the British mentality because in my experience they like that sort of thing.

Q: Looking out of the window here on Linthorpe Road we can see many different types of restaurants and they all do well but no Greek food.

D: Yes that was the idea I think there is a gap in the market. We looked around the area and there was nothing similar so we thought it was a good idea because as you say there are a lot of different styles of restaurant around here but it is good to offer the people of Middlesbrough the option.

Q: I have heard that you enjoy eating out in local restaurants when you can.

D: Yes, I love food, obviously I can’t have exactly what I want because of my job but I do like to try different things and I go many places not only in Middlesbrough but around the area. Yes, I think a lot of people like to try new things and this is a good option for them to have.

Q: I live not far from here Dimi and I saw the signs going up in the windows a long time ago so I know that you have spent some time doing this. You are obviously trying to do it properly.

D: Yes we said from day one that we have to do it properly. If we do something like this then it needs to be 100% quality-wise. Everything should be spot on. This is something we have been planning for the future as well. We want people to come here and enjoy the food and everything to be clean and very efficient from the service and so they leave this place happy.

Q: You have a business partner from Greece and a chef from Greece but you have employed some local people as well.

D: Yes it is partly something for me to give back to this area that has given me so much. To invest here. Since we started having this idea straight away I said the best place to start is here in the north east and in Middlesbrough. Yes, there is no better place for me to start a venture like this.

Q: How many years is it now since you first came to the area and joined Hartlepool?

D: Yes, there was a spell of three years when I went to Greece, it has been altogether about ten years now. So, I have spent most of my professional career in the north east and it feels like home to me. My family is settled here and my wife is from Hartlepool and it is where I have my home.

Q: From my experience of going in restaurants in Greece it seems like a social thing as well as eating. Would that be fair to say?

D: Yes, it is like a ritual for them in Greece people like to spend a few hours eating and talking, nibbling and having a chat and a laugh. It is not the same here because people sometimes go out and eat and they go straight away. But we are flexible. If people want to spend their time here and enjoy a few drinks. Because we have the option of a little variety, you don’t have to stick to the same main course you can try different things and pick. So, maybe people will take some time.

Q: I notice you have the four tv screens. Like a sports bar.

D: Yes we want it to be a bit contemporary and simple really.

Q: You are certainly not stepping into a taverna here are you?

D: No we didn’t want to go down that road because the kind of food we are offering is not taverna food it is more traditional Greek food. We have done this design where the designer did the whole project. The tellys are part of this, they will be showing videos and music. Something for people to look at. There will be music as well. We are trying to make it as enjoyable as possible for people to have food here.

Q: You are beneath a student hall here aren’t you?

D: Yes, student accommodation, so I think it is a good spot to open a restaurant. There are a lot of students upstairs so we hope they will come and try some food. We will see what happens.

Q: Can I please ask you a few questions about football. You joined Middlesbrough three or four years ago now?

D: Four seasons ago.

Q: I don’t suppose you dreamt back then what would happen over the next couple of seasons. You were third choice weren’t you?

D: No, it has been a tremendous journey for me. I have enjoyed every step of it. I came to the team on a short term contract but I always believed in myself, I always thought I need a chance and if I get a chance I will prove myself. That is what has happened in the past and I was lucky to be given a chance and then from then on it started going upwards.

Nothing has changed for me; it is the same story now. I have done it before whenever I am given the chance and I will do it again.

Q: People might not realise that prior to joining Boro you had been playing at AEK Athens, so playing in the top league in Greece.

D: Yes and Europa League as well, European football. I have some good experiences on my CV. I have played for many big clubs and I am proud of it.

Q: You must also be very proud of your record at Boro, especially last season with so many clean sheets.

D: Yes it is something I take great pride in. I was lucky to be amongst a set of lads who were really working hard, really working together. They were a good team and still are. To have this record and to be in the record books of the club is something special.

Q: And of course to experience the drama of clinching promotion in the last game against Brighton. Going down to the very last seconds. That must have been special.

D: Yes, it was a bit of a roller coasterm as a season and a game. But we came through it and we are here now and we are very grateful and we are enjoying our time in the Premier League and I think we have the potential to be in this league for many, many years.

Q: What about you for your future? You have said that you want to continue playing as long as you can?

D: Yes, I feel good, I feel fit, I feel sharp. I train every day and I train hard. I still have the urge to improve myself. So, it is not even in my mind yet about retiring. When I get to the stage that I wake up on a morning and I am not feeling as happy going to work and am not feeling that I want to try any more then I will retire. But for now I am feeling like I was feeling ten years ago. So as long as I feel like that I will continue.

Q: I was going to say, so you are still hungry to play football…

D: Yes, (laughs) that is a good one.

Q: Thanks very much I am looking forward to coming here and trying the food and celebrating a Boro win.

D: Yes, I will get the lads in soon to try it as well. I have already told them they are expected.

Photos by Tracy Hyman (below head chef, Dimi and Nikos)

Great is open 11am til late. You can find it on twitter @GreatGreekFood

Dimi, head Chef and Nikos

Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience – Teesside University Boost Placement Blog

pn41XX Transporter volunteer Pic 2 (4)

During Summer 2015, Laura Forbes worked alongside Middlesbrough Council staff in the day-to-day running of Teesside’s iconic Tees Transporter Bridge as part of the Teesside University Summer BOOST Programme.  Here Laura recalls her time on the HLF-supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project…

Throughout my time at the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with local schools in promoting the Bridge’s heritage. This has included assisting with tours, creating presentations and worksheets. Having never worked specifically with schools before, I didn’t realise the importance of promoting heritage from a young age. I was surprised to find how in awe of the Bridge, and how eager visiting school groups were to learn more about it. Their enthusiasm was contagious and really brought home to me the importance of children in the role of heritage. I also found they had the most profound perceptions of the Bridge, particularly those who live in Port Clarence – they described the Bridge as something that made them feel ‘safe’ and like they could ‘never get lost’. It was very touching to see how important this landmark was in their day-to-day lives.

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Inspired by the project, I also developed a link-up with local writing company, Ek Zuban, in creating a wider heritage creative writing session.  This would come to fruition in the form of not only a performance of creative writing inspired by and in the shadow of the famous landmark, but also a musical performance too.

I realise the legacy of the Bridge’s heritage lies with these children and the importance of creating an unforgettable first experience of the Bridge, so as they grow older, they too can pass on these fond memories to others and keep the vision of the Transporter Bridge as an iconic landmark alive.

With the support of Teesside University, I have also utilised the camera loan system and captured unique parts of the project – there have been countless opportunities where having a camera has made a real difference. Many of the images I’ve taken onsite have been used for press releases, publications and social media – I’ve felt proud to be able to contribute towards the promotion of the Bridge in a visual way. I’m now even saving for a D-SLR camera of my own. I’ve always had an interest in photography, but have never gone as far as to purchase a camera. This placement has inspired me to pursue this hobby, and to be able to develop new skills in this has considerably increased my employability.c/o Teesside Archives

As I am a student studying English at Teesside University, I was given the opportunity to create blog posts and contribute to press releases. I felt I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the conventions of these formats of writing. Furthermore, simple daily writing tasks, such as emailing, have helped me develop a mature and formal tone when communicating with colleagues, whilst this better understanding of what is expected in press releases – invaluable should I wish to enter a role in PR.

During the course of the placement I particularly enjoyed working at the newly renovated Transporter Bride Visitor Centre, from greeting visitors to the Bridge to setting up the venue for special events.  This also provided a fantastic opportunity to share what I’ve learnt about the heritage of the Transporter Bridge with visitors. I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with people who visit the site, and I have surprised myself with the amount of knowledge I’ve picked up just being around the Bridge and the people that are passionate about it. I did my best to make sure people’s experience at the Bridge was a positive one.

I feel very proud to say I have been involved in the Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience, so much so that I have joined the Friends of the Tees Transporter Bridge and volunteered beyond my placement.  My time at the Transporter has increased my confidence in dealing with the public and helped create a sense of pride that I have added positively to their experience at the Bridge.  I would encourage anyone interested in volunteering at the Bridge or participating in a placement there to pursue this truly unique experience.

Are you interested in volunteering at the Tees Transporter Bridge? Visit www.teestransporterbridge.com for more information. 

Middlesbrough: A centre for design lovers

Guest post by Sarah Laurenson.

In October 2014, a group of historians and researchers visited Middlesbrough for a conference, titled ‘Victorian Cities Revisited’, to explore and share knowledge and ideas on place, space and industrial heritage. Sarah Laurenson, a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh with a background in design and craft practice, reflects on her experiences during the visit.
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When I stepped off the train from Edinburgh late at night, I knew very little about Middlesbrough. I was attending the conference as part of my research into nineteenth-century craft and design, which involves thinking about how industry and production shaped everyday life in Britain’s towns and cities. I was expecting to hear some interesting papers, and maybe meet a few like-minded folk.

© Sarah Laurenson

Over the next two days, I was utterly charmed by Middlesbrough itself. I discovered a fascinating town steeped in history, and packed with interesting examples of design. My first taste was seeing the Victorian architecture on my morning walk through the heart of the town to the Gothic Town Hall, where the conference was held. One of the first things I learned was how Middlesbrough rose from almost nothing to become a major industrial centre in a very short period of time. In 1801 there were four houses and about 25 people living in the area; just 90 years later, the population had grown to around 90,000 as a result of the rise of the iron industry. The whole town is a product of nineteenth-century industry.

c/o Teesside Archives. CB/M/E 24In the afternoon we took a walk to the Tees Transporter Bridge – one of several trips organised as part of the conference, including tours of Teesside Archives – and learned about its design and construction. The landmark is one of the longest of its kind, and is still fully operational more than a century after it opened in 1911. It carries vehicles and passengers across the River Tees on a gondola suspended on steel wires from a rail system 160 feet above the water. We also came to understand how the Transporter has become iconic of Middlesbrough and the surrounding area as a great blue steel monument to a rich history of industry. Currently undergoing major renovations as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, the Bridge will reopen with a newly renovated Visitor Centre in the near future.

On the second day of the conference, I took a walk to the Dorman Museum to see the Christopher Dresser Collection. Often named’ the father of modern design’, Scottish-born Dresser (1834-1904) is considered to be the first independent industrial designer and was a household name in his lifetime. Dresser is known for embracing the machine, in-keeping with his ideas that good design should be simple, functional and affordable, at a time when other important designers looked to the past and ancient hand techniques. The exhibits of Dresser’s own designs – wallpapers, textiles, ceramics, glass, metalware and furniture – along with objects that inspired him during his travels to Japan, document Dresser’s life, work and travels.

Dresser © Sarah Laurenson Dresser © Sarah Laurenson

Baker Street  © Sarah Laurenson

Arriving back at Centre Square (but not before I had a look in a few of the lovely independent shops on Baker Street), I headed into mima to discover one of the finest collections of contemporary jewellery in the UK. The newly-opened jewellery gallery has 200 pieces on display by designers including Wendy Ramshaw, Felieke van der Leest and Gijs Bakker. An exhibition charts the growth of a movement known as ‘New Jewellery’, which began in the 1970s through collaborative working and exchange between artists and designers from Britain, Holland and Germany. The movement was centred on the use of new and old materials and techniques to challenge the very concept of jewellery. The gallery is an absolute must-see for any budding jewellery designer. In fact, I think it will become a place of pilgrimage and an important learning resource for designers and makers of all sorts of things. It blew my mind.

mima © Sarah Laurenson mima © Sarah Laurenson

The keynote lecture of ‘Victorian Cities Revisited’ was delivered by Professor Robert J. Morris, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh’s School of History. Titled ‘Place and memory in the industrial city’, Morris’s talk gave insights into his own experience of Middlesbrough (including his first job as a pay clerk in the very Town Hall in which we were sat). He spoke of how this ‘town without a history’ invented an identity based on a sense of its huge achievements. Over the next hour, we considered the ways in which other industrial centres have transformed unused plant and mills to create new spaces for hotels, design studios and museums, and the exciting possibilities for Middlesbrough to continue redefining itself through its many assets: the bridge, old coke furnaces and the water front.

I spent my last hour in Middlesbrough back in mima’s jewellery gallery before returning to Edinburgh feeling more than just a little bit fond of this unassuming gem of a town. It is a centre for design-lovers of all kinds – students, researchers, designer-makers, craft workers, fabricators, engineers. I’m certain that my first time in Middlesbrough certainly won’t be my last.
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Sarah Laurenson visited Middlesbrough as part of her PhD research on the Leverhulme funded project, ‘Artisans and the Craft Economy in Scotland, c.1780-1914’ led by Professor Stana Nenadic at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh.

Victorian Cities Revisited: Heritage and History Conference’ was a two-day conference organised by Tosh Warwick of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Tees Transporter Bridge Visitor Experience Project and the University of Huddersfield. The conference was funded with support from the Economic History Society and Middlesbrough Council.

All images © Sarah Laurenson, except Tees Transporter Bridge, which is courtesy of Teesside Archives (ref:  CB/M/E 24).

The Olde Young Tea House is national Independent of the Year!

OYTHFrom humble beginnings to achieving national recognition for their business, The Olde Young Tea House is going from strength to strength.

Opened in June 2010 as the dream of head tea bee Carli McNaught, Middlesbrough’s only tea house sits opposite The Cleveland Centre, and has quickly become a firm favourite on the local independent scene.

Serving a dizzying variety of over 60 teas, all beautifully laid out for customers to choose from, and a daily range of cakes so divine it’s just plain rude not to have a slice of each, The Olde Young Tea House is currently rated 5th of all restaurants in Middlesbrough, and holds a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence.

And just when life couldn’t get any better…it did!

After entering the local heat of Independent of the Year on the Love Middlesbrough Facebook page, The Olde Young Tea House beat off stiff competition from other much loved local independents Concept and Lots of Loveliness to be crowned the local winner, going on to represent Middlesbrough in the national final.

Yesterday, after competition in the national final was so fierce that the top four businesses were deadlocked, the news finally came through that our favourite tea house had been awarded the glorious title of Independent of the Year 2014.

Representing Middlesbrough and more importantly, the work they do in creating a little community of tea and cake lovers, we couldn’t be prouder to have such a wonderful business in our town, and we wish them continued sweet (and yummy) success!

Visit them at: 84 Grange Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2LS (open Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm).
Call them to book your own tea party (you know you want to!): 07868 251420
Keep up to date with their delectable cakes: The Olde Young Tea House on Facebook

Acklam Hall Tour – Local History Month 2014

On Sunday May 4th, Acklam Hall in Middlesbrough threw open its doors to the public as part of Local History Month 2014. Modest expectations for the visitor numbers were spectacularly shattered when over 1000 people arrived to view the 17th Century building which for generations was the home of the eminent Hustler family, passing down through the generations in one of the longest periods of continuous ownership in history.

The building, which was sold to Middlesbrough Council in 1928 and has since offered its awe-inspiring surroundings for use as various schools and colleges, still retains all of its beautiful period features, including an ornately carved pine staircase. The building is Grade 1 listed – only 2.5% of all listed buildings can claim this status, and puts Acklam Hall in an enviable position alongside Westminster Abbey and York Minster.

Perhaps unusually for a tour, a large amount of time was spent looking up, rather than around, as some of the most spectacular features of the building were the beautiful ceilings.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

Another of the features which gives Acklam Hall its Grade I status (as well as the staircase), is the magnificent ceiling above the staircase.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

The ceiling bears the date 1683 and is another of the original features of the house. During the Victorian era, when another floor was added to house servants’ quarters, the entire ceiling was lifted from its original position to make way for the building work, before being installed in its new position, a floor higher, where it hangs to this day, supported by unseen hessian straps.

Acklam Hall Ceiling

At this time, the staircase was also extended to serve the new floor, and it is possible to see subtle differences between the two parts of the staircase, including that the posts (or balusters) are only a single twist in the newer part, as opposed to the higher quality double twists in the original part.

Acklam Hall Staircase (original)

With the project to restore the hall having just begun, it is reassuring to know that this jewel of Middlesbrough’s history, which bore witness not only to a family’s history, but also the growing up of Middlesbrough during the Victorian era, will be preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Acklam Hall Stairs