IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
Metaxourgeio is one of Athens’ oldest neighbourhoods which still maintains all the features which give the area the flavor of days gone by. A neighbourhood blessed with mulberry trees and rich vegetation, Metaxourgeio is featured with 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 this is how the neighbourhood has taken its 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 in 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, the reputation of his good skills and work ethic 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. This is when Socony – Vacuum Hellas offered him a bigger station, but he refused it and instead restored his small station at Odeon Square. Within the following years he set a sales record of supplying 80,000 gallons of gas.
As the years went by, Alexandros Zekios’ reputation grew and as a result, Mobil proposed a partnership to him by providing him financial support to purchase Panellinio, the parking garage at Achilleos 65 in Metaxourgeio.
Panellinio operated as a full-service garage providing services such as parking and quality petrol in its fuel station. Panellinio introduced a car wash service using water from Kyklovoros – a river with an abundant water supply which flowed beneath the station. The garage consisted of the ground floor and the roof top. The ground floor was used as a parking area for taxis, and on the roof top buses would be parked at night while their drivers rested before starting on their long journeys in the morning to the Peloponnese. The area where Panellinio is located used to be a central spot for the vegetable market where locals used to gather and make business deals. Mr. George was a popular feature at Panellinio – a kind Greek gentleman who transferred his little café to the garage and delivered Greek coffee to neighboring shops. Panellinio was transformed to a busy city hub known by travelers and locals for its multiple services (fuel station, car wash, parking and café) and friendly employees.
Alexander Zekios managed Panellinio at Achilleos 65 until 1964. However, his love for his first station at Odeon Square made him move back. His son-in-law, Konstantinos Papoutsakis, took over the management of Panellinio and continued its successful journey in the following years. Some of Panellinio’s profits were used to contribute to the welfare of Alexander Zekio’s small village, which was always in his 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).
The ownership of Panellinio 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 worked at Panellinio from the age of 11 after his school day ended in order to learn the business. During his university studies, he took ownership of Panellinio’s and in 1994 became chairman of the Board of Directors. At the same time, he was also involved in the commercial oil and scrap trade and expanded into new markets. In the 1990’s, Michalis Papoutsakis purchased 4 plots around the garage and expanded Panellinio, opening new entrances from Antilochou and Paramythias streets.
Michalis Papoutsakis decided to change his career path and deal with investments in the global stock market. He trusted Panellinio’s future to Plataeon S.A. which took full ownership of the station in 2017. Michalis Papoutsakis was confident that Plataeon S.A. would be committed to continue Panellinio’s successful journey. Plataeon was ready to continue providing high quality services following the same work ethics and exceptional professionalism that the station’s first owner, Alexander Zekios, applied.
After two years of renovation and reconstruction, Plataeon S.A. managed to bring Panellinio back to its original identity. Panellinio welcomes you again by keeping all the elements which feature the nostalgic mood of the 1960s. Having fully adopted the same format Panellinio had back in the 1960’s but using modern top of the range equipment, the refurbished historic station provides to its customers valet parking, car wash, fuel and a café inspired by the retro style of the 1960’s.