Skopelos: A Tasty Slice of Pensacola History

Drexel on the Road

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Pensacola has undergone a restaurant explosion in recent years. Nestled in the middle of the new and trendy places, is a restaurant going back 60 years, run by a man who understands the value of keeping one foot in the past, while embracing the future.

Skopelos has been a part of Pensacola’s dining scene since 1959, when Paul Silivos, an immigrant from the Greek island of Skopelos, opened a family diner on Cervantes Street.

Paul’s son, Gus, began working as a busboy at 11.

“They had me doing a little bit of everything through the years!” says Gus Silivos.

He is now Executive Chef. Silivos has guided the restaurant through two location changes, first to Scenic Highway during the 1980s.

“People would ask me, ‘Please tell us you are taking every pot and pan from this location to the new location!” Silivos says with a laugh. (And by the way, he did.)

Then, after a 6 year hiatus, Skopelos re-opened a few years back at New World Inn on South Palafox Street in thriving downtown Pensacola. It’s been a fun, long ride, says Silivos, who delights in greeting his long-time customers.

“I had a gentleman the other night said I came in here in 1981 and you were the chef at Skopelos and you’re still the chef!” adding, “We have tourists from Louisiana, Georgia, all over who come back when they are in town. And local people will bring their great-grandchildren so that they can experience what they have experienced over the years.”

While always looking toward the future, Silivos believes roots to the past are important to the people in this historic community. Roots that reach into the kitchen.

“To this day, we still buy the whole fish and break it down ourselves and not everybody still does that. I believe we have to stick to our roots and build on that,” says Silivos. And

Two longtime employees, now faithful customers, says that in addition to the menu, there’s another reason the restaurant stands the test of time in its hometown community.

“Gus is the driving force. He’s here when they first come in and he’s here when they leave,” says Sherry Phelps.

Joann Crabtree adds, “They make you feel so welcome and at home”

At Sunday’s 60th anniversary celebration, Gus will offer food stations with popular menu items through the decades.

“The 60’s Skopelos Oysters which is a family recipe. “The 70’s Scamp Cervantes a dish we created when we were on Cervantes Street.” (And which, by the way, was once enjoyed by President George H. Bush and his wife, Barbara.)

Asked what he thought Paul Silivos would think about his dream’s 60 year journey, Gus Silivos replied, “To see the evolution from that (the first restaurant on Cervantes Street) to what’s now a fine dining establishment, and to carry on the name that comes from the island where we are from… I think he would be proud.”

Sunday’s anniversary celebration is a ticketed event. For information, you can go to www.skopelosatnewworld.com and to purchase tickets, call the restaurant at 850-432-6565.

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