Cool! I lived a 20 minute walk from that place.
Wow, I used to live about 25-30 min walk from Ploshad' Vostaniya (next to Vladimirskaya).
where did you live, Ptichka? Which school did you go to?
I lived the other way from the square - on the corner of Mytninskaya and 8th Sovetskaya. I went to the French school #155 - on Grecheski Prospekt, between 6th and 7th Sovetskayas. Around Vladimirskaya is a very nice area though
I went to school #206, on the corner of Lomonosov and Fontanka. It used to be a school before revolution as well; Arkadi Raikin is the most famous alumnus. I lived on Vladimirsky prospect, right next to the theater.
I did not realize you were from Leningard. Looks like we emmigrated around the same time too. Small world, indeed.
I get hungry just reading about Anton's restaurant - the food sounds great!
Anton Sikhuralidze new program: "Dinner is server!"
What hapens when skaters become restauranteurs"
Hurrying to meet one skater, you can easily run into another one. Right on Nevsky I bumped into Alexei Yagudin. "You wouldn't happen to be coming from Skiharulidze's restaurant", I inquired from the Olympic champion. "The from there", responded Alexei.
For those who don't know, Anton Sikhuralidze, also an Olympic champion, but in pair with Elena Berezhnaya, multiple time a champion if Europe and World in figure skating, has opened a restaurant in Petersburg center. He spends his whole days there.
What about skating? you might ask. It didn't go anywhere. Sikhuralidze skill skates with Berezhnaya, but in pros.
Anton Sikhuralidze's restaurant in across from Moscow station. It's called "Sphynx". It's quite presentable, and it's packed. And there comes the restauranteur himself.
One more sphynx
"I don't have any shows now, so I spend every day in the restautant", explains the skater. "There is a lot of work here. The new business takes a lot of time and effor, because you really want it to be food for the customers".
"But it seems you like it..."
"Each moring I wake up happy, and rush over here to do things I've recently never heard of."
"Hmmm... It all comes with experience. The important thing is that I love it".
"When did it open?"
"May 1st. We'll have the formal opening sometime later. Now we're preparing for it".
"How did you come up with the name Sphynx?"
"Name is a strange thing. It usually comes from nowhere in particular. Petersburg has a lot of sphynxes. Also, a sphynx is a kind, strong, and confident creature. In other workds, just right."
"I've heard it's something between a restaurant and a cafe..."
"We, too, usually say 'cafe'. The work 'restaurant' tends to scare people. They think a restaurant has to be expensive. We, on the other hand, have very reasonable prices. Besides, what difference does it make what you call it? The important thing is for people to get enjoyment and the food they want."
"Did you consider other investment options?"
"You know, when you have money you always have options. Perhaps we'll thing of something else in the future, but for now it's the restarant. It's a test venture, our first serious business."
"I understand it's a co-venture?"
"Yes, I have a partner. He has nothing to do with figure skating. Without him, I'd be in trouble, as the project is rather expensie and needs a lot of attention. One head is good, but two's better."
"Are you happy with how the business is going?"
"Absolutely. I get more and more customers each week. We have regulars. Honestly, I haven't heard a single negative response yet. Quite the opposite, our book is filled with gratitude. I myself eat here every day. I still haven't grown tired of it."
"We have chefs who've worked in five star hotels and in fancy restaurants. Sure, there are always things you want to imporve, but you can't do everything perfect in one month."
"What's you style - is it Easter?"
"Egyptian. It least that's the influence. I like the style - it's rather warm, cozy, but at the same time not at all official."
Russia has learned to put on a show
"So, you business is booming. What percentage of your success would you say is due to your popularity?"
"It's too early to tell. Such percentage certainly exists. If in the future we will please customers with food quality and with prices, then I think more people will hear that the skater Sikhuralidze has opened up a resaurant. Though the popularity has a reverse side as well. For instance, I now have no room for a mistakes. When an unknown person opens a restaurant, few people notice his mistakes; if I make one, everyone will hear about it".
"Is it easier to be a skater?"
"Not at all. Everything as its own flavor. It's not easier to take the ice. But you have to understand that I've skated for 25 years, I've had some accomplishments, whereas I've only been here a month. It's hard to adjust. Personally, I want our restaurant to be for everyone - for the rich, for the poor, for the middle. I want people to come here and want to come back. That's why I chose the location in the center."
"How do you divide time between the restaurant and skating?"
"It's all possible if you think it through. Though only with pro skating - this would be unthinkable with amateur sport. For example, I know have a break through October, so I can devote my time to the restaurant."
"What will happen in October?"
"Lena and I are in our last year of the contract with Stars on Ice. It'll be over in Spring. Then, we'll look at all our options, weight the pros and cons, consider what's happening with skating in America in general. It's still hard to tell if Lena and I will keep skating. I mean in the State. In Russia we'll definitely continue.
"Has Russia learned to put on shows?"
"Russia is now in a figure sakting boom. An unprecedented one. I've recently toured with Ilya Averbukh's show thoughout the country, and saw it with my own eyes. So our shows do have a future. There are many sponsors - they now understand that they can use shows to advertise and to make money. And for us, for the athlets - trust me, it's not empty words when I say that it's a lot more fun to perfrom at home than abroad.
"Can you make money on it?"
"I mean the saketrs? Surem it's possible. No one is in the charity business. Everyone undestands that a person does his job well when he's paid well."
I think I'm ready for a family
"How long do you intend to skate with Lena?"
"You know, for a long time. We are in a real peak now - we find new tricks we couldn't use in the sport, we create, we experiment a lot. Recently I got programs with elements of him hop and disco, and others started following us. That's very rewarding".
"The journalists are always trying to marry you and Lena. I want to ask, the Berezhnaya-Sikhuralidze brand exists as long as you're skating, or is there something more?"
"We have a very warm relationship. I liked how Lena asnwered this once. A journalist once asked her, what about love and all that? She said, "You know, our relationship with Anton has outgrown love". You see? We're like relatives, like people who love each other. Say, like a brother and a sister. I think we'll go through life side by side. Everything we went through, everything we accomplished in the sport - you can't just forget that and through it away. It will be with us forever."
"Did Lena participate in the restaurant venture?"
"She was with us. As I've said, we're inseparable. Perhaps in the future we'll go into some other business with Lena. For know we're busy enough."
"If memory serves, you used to outright envy the regular folks, that others of your age already have kids, while you keep being asked about Olympics..."
"Yah, I went through that. Now, I think there is a time for everything. Certain activities require certain age. Sure, Lena and I can skate in a show, we can perform, but when it comes to the big sport, we have to give way to the young ones. Though what does it mean to "give way"? They pass you all on their own. Winning everything in yet another cycle is not only not fun, it's pointless. A man of a mature age, such as I am, should be concerned with other things. For example, I keep coming back to creating a family. I think I'm ready."
"I didn't consider it before?"
"Not for real. When you're in the sport, you fight for the medals, and everything else comes second."
Figure skating has ceazed to be beautiful
"So, you don't regret leaving the eligible sport after the 2002 Olympics."
"Not at all. I even pat ourselves on the back for this decision. Immediately, new facets of life opened up, new interests emerged. A person can't lead life the same way all the time. I've glad. And Lenka is happy too."
"I though you largely quit the sport after the whole scandal with the double gold medals in Salt Lake City"
"Oh no! I don't even remember the details of what happened then - it's just water under the bridge, so many things happened since. Sometimes I think - perhaps it's good that it happened. May be that made us famous. Otherwise, we'd just win gold, get medals, and hear, ah, the Russians won again. This way it's exciting!" (smiles)
"Would you like to have skated under a new judging system?"
"Honestly, I don't like it. I don't like how the competitions happen. It's not just me - there are now fewer people in the audience. In my opinion, things should have been left as is. Claiming that this fights corruption is absurd - corruption exhists in all areas of life."
"Perhaps, the ISU decided to fight Russian domination of figure skating this way?"
"I have no idea what it decided to fight. But the changing face of competition, especially in pair skating, is a reality. They came up with all those lifts, and required elements... No one can do it properly. Me, I understand this - to do those lifts well, you have to spend a whole year on them exclusively. Yet pair skating has many other elements, it is both elegant and athletic. It's not there today. What do we see? Programs aren't clean, aren't refines, the skaters are in pain. There is a set of elements that gets the mark, and there is no beauty in skating. It disappears, and the audience doesn't undestand what's gong on. It's sad.
By the way
A dish from Anton Sikharukidze
We have a dish called "Super Sphynx" - it's a plate for two. It has port, beef kebab, chicken shashlyk, and grilled chicked fillet. It's served with a green salad, a sauce, break, french fries, and rice. It's perfect for a warm cozy atmosphere. We bring a huge plate and the flatware, and the customers go at. We recommend "Super Sphynx" with bear - Carlsbert, Hostnen, Baltika, whatever one like. I've tried it and I like it.