Stina Stays Steadfast

The always charitable outward-looking Newbold restaurant looks inward.

It is very nearly a year since Bobby and Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, the marrieds behind 17th and Snyder’s Mediterranean BYO-with-a-mission Stina, opened shop. And now, that mission includes helping Stina help the community it serves, as well as itself. “This, of course, has been a very difficult time for all of us,” said Bobby, considering his new GoFundMe plan (see below). 

Since last July, Stina (named by Chef Bobby for his missus) has become a de rigueur stop-and-go for speedy couriers, hipster skateboarders, stogie smoking South Philly olds and fresh-faced millennial parents looking to dine on everything from his signature grilled octopus, to his North African Merguez lamb sausage kebabs, to his roasted cauliflower done up with Tahini, Baharat spice, and chermoula.

If you want something more theatrical and hearty there is thick-crusted pizza and baked Turkish Borek – a filled pastry made of thin flaky dough with kashkaval cheese, honey, toasted sesame – all fresh from the Saritsoglou’s flaming oven. “The Morello Forni is a popular attraction,” said Bobby of his baby, a wood-fired oven imported from Italy.

Beyond the food, what Stina has been known for from its start is a sense of social service and charity. “We’re a mission-driven restaurant,” said Bobby of Stina’s monthly percentage points (1% of Stina’s daily sales, 20% of the last Tuesday of the month) given to different local good-doers and those in need. That has so far included locals in need of aid such as Books Through Bars, Juntos, the Community Bail Fund, Puentes de Salud and many more.

Part of that ideal comes from Kallas-Saritsoglou, the co-founder of the nonprofit Philly AIDS Thrift and its dedication to HIV related causes, activism, aid and education. Kallas-Saritsoglou started Philly AIDS Thrift in 2005, with a handful of like-minded friends after “having grown up as a teenager at a time when AIDS devastated the community,” said Christina of creating its Fifth Street (off South) location and its recently opened second spot at Giovanni’s Room on Pine Street. “We watched too many friends die and other friends continuing to live and struggle with the disease. We put it together so that we could make a difference for the HIV community.”

“We built that into our finely tuned business plan, to raise money for a charity every day,” said Chef Bobby. “We’re not trying to grab every single penny for ourselves. That’s alright with us. We don’t need to buy a Mercedes.”

Owners, Chef Bobby and Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou.

What Stina does need – but can’t do at present as they made a decision to shut down, and commit to the overall health of the Stina community, until the city and state okay otherwise – is to be able to keep its donation dollars going while looking for cash to keep the lights on, and its staff on emergency support, during the city’s COVID-19 closure.

They’re looking to the health of the Stina community and in no way wish to risk it in any capacity.

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