IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
Metaxourgeio is one of Athens’ oldest neighborhoods that still holds all those features which give to the area the flavor of old times. A neighborhood blessed with mulberry trees and rich vegetation, Metaxourgeio is featured for its gracious Athenian manor houses linked to beautiful gardens as well as its old streets.
This is where Athanasios Douroutis founded the historic silk factory and thus, the neighborhood has taken his name (silk in Greek is called ‘Metaxi’). The factory closed in 1875 but its brilliant neoclassical building remains a landmark in Athens and today it operates as a municipal gallery. In this historic area of Metaxourgeio, at 65 Achilleos Str, is where Panellinio’s story begins..
Born to a poor family within a small village outside of Athens, Alexandros Zekios arrived in Athens when he was 14 years old with no money. Being young and broke, he started working at a petrol station where he also slept at night. Eager to learn, he worked as an apprentice mechanic helping his boss to fix cars. Zekio’s starting point that marked him as a good car engineer, was when he was asked to repair the Greek Parliament’s cars. From then, his reputation of his good skills and work ethics grew, and in 1928 he decided to open his own petrol station.
He went to Socony-Vacuum Hellas and undertook a small semi basement station, with two petrol pumps, at Odeon Square adjacent to Pireos Street. He brought his mother to work with him. This would be his ‘lucky’ station and, despite WWI, the station remained in the same location.
During the German occupation of Greece, the station was destroyed. Socony – Vacuum Hellas offered him a bigger station but he refused it. He built his small station at Odeon Square. Since then, and within the following years he set a sales record of supplying 80,000 gallons of gas.
As the years go by, Alexandros Zekios’ reputation became more known and as a result, Mobil proposed him a partnership by providing him financial support to buy Panellinio, the parking garage at Achilleos 65 in Metaxourgeio.
Panellinio operated in Athens as a full-service garage providing services such as parking and quality petrol within its filling station. At the same time, Panellinio introduced a car wash service that used water from Kyklovoros – a river with abundant water that was flowing below the station. The garage consists of the ground floor and the roof top. The ground floor was used as a parking area for the taxis whereas the roof top was filled by the buses whose drivers needed to park somewhere to rest for the night before their long routes to Peloponnese. The area where Panellinio is located used to be a central spot for the vegetable market where all locals used to gather and make business deals. Another happening that featured Panellinio was Mr George – a kind old Greek man who transferred his little Greek café within the garage and delivered Greek coffee to neighboring shops. Thus, Panellinio was transformed to a nice city hub known by travelers and locals for its multiple services (filling station, car wash, parking and café) which gave the feeling of being home.
Alexander Zekios managed Panellinio at Achilleos 65 until 1964. However, his big love with his other station at Odeon Square made him move back. Thus, his son-in-law Konstantinos Papoutsakis took over the management of Panellinio which continued its successful journey in the following years operating 24/7. Some of Panellinio’s earnings where used to contribute to Alexander Zekio’s small village, which he always had in mind and heart.
Panellinio continued its successful journey until 1990, when the intersection / bridge on Achilleos Street was built. Despite the difficulties and obstacles that the construction caused, Panellinio continued to operate under the name “K. Papoutsakis & SIA OE/ Panellinio” (Automobile Services Garage Panellinio).
Panellinio station’s ownership was passed on to Michalis Papoutsakis, Konstantinos Papoutsakis’ son, who developed the garage into the limited company “SEAP SA. Panellinio” (Automotive Services Garage Panellinio, societe Anonyme). Michalis Papoutsakis, was working in Panellinio from the age of 11 in order to learn the business while attending school. During his university studies, he took ownership of Panellinio’s and in 1994 he eventually became chairman of the Board of Directors. At the same time, he was also involved in the commercial oil and scrap trade while he was active expanding into new markets. In the 1990’s, Michalis Papoutsakis purchased 4 plots around the area and he expanded the Panellinio via developing entrances from Antilochou and Paramythias streets.
Michalis Papoutsakis is now engaged professionally in investments in the (global) stock markets and has transferred Panellinio to Plataeon S.A., with utmost confidence in the continuation of the historic course of the station with its legacy of professionalism and quality since day one of its operation.
After two years of multiple renovations and constructions, Plataeon S.A. managed to bring Panellinio back to its original identity. Panellinio, fully remodeled and renovated welcomes you again by keeping all those elements that feature the nostalgic mood of the 1960’s. Having fully adopted the exact form it used to have back in the 1960’s but with the latest technology equipment, the refurbished historic station provides to its customers services such as parking, car wash, fuel and a café inspired by the retro style of 1960’s.