Wednesday, September 17, 2008

EXPANDING OUR HORIZONS: Like a lot of good hosts, Natalina Koropoulos says, "I hate to refuse people." But those who want to try out her restaurant don't have many options on crowded nights: A bar in the rear has only four stools for those who have to wait.

So the co-owner of the intimate Mourayo (1732 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-667-2100) in Dupont Circle did what anyone in her place would do if they could: She expanded, taking over the neighboring storefront, a former dry cleaner. It has taken eight months to get the necessary building permit, she says, but sometime next month the restaurateur expects to add a mahogany bar and about a dozen seats to her Greek dining room.

Mourayo will be closed for only a few days while the wall between the two locations is breached. When the work is complete, customers will find a communal table where the old bar stood and an etched-glass mural of a mourayo, or safe harbor, on display behind the new bar in the next room. And the same artist who made the restaurant's signature wooden portholes will have added more to the equation.

Redoing the space is prompting Koropoulos to rethink Mourayo's menu. She says she hopes to add poikilia (snack assortments) and beer and wine pairings in the months to come.

-- Tom Sietsema

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