Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Where are they now? Catching up with Willie from Odessa

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

After Odessa’s closed in July 2020 at 119 Avenue A, several EVG readers wrote in asking about longtime waiter Willie Forero.

Thanks to a tip from Bobby Lesko, we found him working at old-school diner Zafi’s Luncheonette at 500 Grand St. (between Willett and Columbia) on the Lower East Side.

I recently dropped by to see how he’s doing, and I’m greeted like family at the unpretentious no-frills luncheonette. Zafi’s is owned by brothers Mike and Gerry Kekatos ... and today I find Mike behind the counter of the 46-year-old business.
Willie seems pretty happy at Zafi’s, where he started in late 2021, telling me that his role here is an “everything job,” including waiting tables, cleaning up and cooking “if I have to.” 

He recommends the “grilled chicken con mayo” and confides he tries something different on the menu each day.
If you’d like to drop by and say hi, he works every day except Tuesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. He says he’s happy to see regulars and meet new regulars too!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

hooray! thanks for this great reporting and fabulous pics! can't wait to drop by!

Goggla said...

Thank you for the update on Willie, Stacie! I miss everything about Odessa.

OlympiasEpiriot said...

Hey!! Zafi's!! I haven't been there is 3 years or so! Glad they are still here.

Anonymous said...

I love this man and have missed him like a lost family member ever since Odessa closed. Can't wait to swing by Zafi's!

EVQP said...

Yay, great to know! We keep thinking about Willie, and Irene, and the rest of Odessa's workers...not to mention missing Odessa itself. We'll be visiting Zafi's soon to say hi!!

Anonymous said...

So happy to see Willie is doing well! Really miss Odessa. Don't count on ppl going there if it becomes an insufferable hipster joint. Bring back diners!

Travis said...

Would love to find out where the other two Women that worked as waitresses there are if anyone knows. Thanks in advance

Riley said...

Oh man. Love this guy so much! Glad he's out and about

drew said...

Willie! ill be headed to see him soon . thanks for update