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Bar Athena Brings New Dining Experience to Holliston

by Matt Ristaino
June 8, 2019

Bar Athena, located on the corner of Washington St. and Central St., is Holliston’s newest dining option. The restaurant opened last month, and has already become very popular with the residents.

The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team: Gordon Wood, who handles the business side of things and tends the bar, and Lisa Mendoza Wood, who is the chef and cooks everything herself.

“The most important thing we’re trying to do with the food is to offer fresh, high quality ingredients,” said Lisa. “I love Mediterranean cooking, so we use a lot of Mediterranean ingredients, but we’re not a ‘Mediterranean restaurant.’ Our menu is not only Greek or only Italian. We pull a little bit from a lot of those different food cultures and combine them.”

Bar Athena has a small menu that is constantly changing, which, according to Lisa, is part of their effort to only use fresh ingredients.

“The way that I learned to cook is based on seasonality,” she said. “So, we wouldn’t lock ourselves into a menu with winter ingredients or vice versa. If you come to Bar Athena in the fall, in the winter, you wouldn’t see strawberries or blueberries on the menu. We’re looking to use what’s freshest right now.”

Lisa has a culinary background, having worked at restaurants in New York City and San Francisco, but this is the first restaurant that she has owned herself. It was Gordon who first suggested the idea of opening their own establishment.

“She had been making me the best lunches, I was making everyone in my office jealous every single day,” said Gordon. “I was eating terrific food that I’d never eaten before. It was unbelievable, and I knew she had a real talent for it. I just thought she had the practical experience as well, she understood what the demands were to run a restaurant, and I just thought it was a great opportunity to share it with a wider population.”

Gordon and Lisa first thought about opening a restaurant at the corner of Washington and Central about two years ago when they noticed the space while visiting Gordon’s family in Mendon. When they moved to Holliston last year from Brooklyn, the location was being put up for sale, and they jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s almost like it was meant to be,” said Lisa.

Of all the challenges of opening a new restaurant, Lisa said that she found finding the right name to be particularly tricky. In the end, she decided on a name rooted in her love for Greek mythology.

“I loved the idea of naming it after Athena because she’s the goddess of courage and also the patron of craftspeople, including cooks,” she said. “I just thought it was kind of a tribute to the ideals and virtues that we would need to do the business. It takes courage, it really does. Some days are harder than others, but, having that name, for me, re-enforces what we set out to do.”

Another challenge they faced was providing the full restaurant experience, complete with glassware and china, while faced with the restrictions of the town’s water and septic system. In the end, they had to reduce the capacity of the space from what it had been as Jasper Hill.

Even with the limited capacity and hours (Bar Athena is only open for dinner and Sunday brunch), both Gordon and Lisa say that the response has been very encouraging, and they fit in well with the community.

“We wanted to offer something different for the area,” said Lisa. “The response has been really tremendous. People have been really supportive of what we’re doing here, and we’re so grateful.”

“By not doing lunch, we have a really good complementary relationship with the other businesses here,” added Gordon. “We’re not competing with the folks across the street. I think it really works well.”

More information about Bar Athena, including hours and their current menu, can be found at barathena.com.

 

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Comments (7)

Great catering!

Tonight, we had birthday party for my wife and instead of cooking I decided to have Bar Athena cater the event.

The food was a hit!

The chicken was cooked to perfection, the salad was fresh, the dolmas were excellent. Our compliments to the chef!

- Jay Heihsel | 8/3/19 9:08 PM

Tonight, my wife and I had dinner for the first time at Bar Athena. We both had Marinated chicken skewers, turmeric rice, and Mediterranean chopped salad with pita & tzatziki and it was good.

In my opinion, the chief knocked it out of the park! The chicken was cooked to prefection and everthing was presented like a 5 stars restaurant should.

Thank you for wonderful evening and meal!

- Jay heihsel | 7/20/19 8:55 PM

My husband John and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last night at Bar Athena - it was perfect. From the drinks (cosmo, strawberry bandito; both cold and fresh and delicious), to our appetizers (grape leaves about which John is a Lebanese expert, and shrimp sakamori) to dinner (fettucini with shrimp and red sauce, cornbread crusted cod) to dessert! John's absolute favorite warm chocolate pudding. Everything was just delicious. The service was great and the sparkly rose suggested with dinner was also perfect for us - not sweet not too dry.

We are so happy to have Bar Athena in town with such a warm atmosphere and the best food I have sampled in Metro West. Thank you so much Gordon and Lisa for making our special night really exceptional. I can't wait to come back!

- julie Fjeldheim | 7/12/19 9:01 AM

Dined there last evening, everything was great, including the wine and dessert - highly recommended

- Lee DeSorgher | 6/9/19 2:58 PM

Excellent food. Dinner for 4 was great,

everything was delicious.

- Ira Leavitt | 6/9/19 1:29 PM

I wish they would post the times thay are open is the window I would like to go there. I can see that it has changed for the better BUT don't know if it is open or not. I see a very few people in there But there is no sign saying welcome. There may be one this week and I missed it.

- JEAN MORRISSEY | 6/8/19 11:08 AM

I tried it out a couple of weeks ago. It was excellent! Can't wait to go back. You can tell there is a lot of thought that goes into the planning & creating a wonderful meal. To me the quality was on par with Alicante in Mendon. I have 3 favorites choices now in Holliston. Tues for Outpost with there new smoker dinners, Anthony's at Pinecrest for outdoor dining with a beautiful view or Bar Athena for incredible creative dinners that are very high quality! Love it!

- Deb Moore | 6/8/19 10:27 AM

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