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Family Matters


Gayle and Nick Mourgides' kitchen is both big and cozy, the kind of place that makes you think of family. Done in yellow and white with a long farm table at one end, the room has lots of counter space for little helpers to work. The Mourgides --- owners of Olives (50 State Street, Pittsford, 381-3990) --- have a lot of little helpers, in fact. Five between them. As parents of a blended family, they needed to make room for everyone. So they expanded the kitchen of their 1924 Pittsford house into their dining room.

            "We have a huge Greek family and they're always here," Gayle says. "So at gatherings, where is everyone? In the kitchen."

            Spending time at home is a priority for the couple. Gayle and Nick manage to cook three nights a week for their kids, who range in age from three to 21 years old.

            "For the restaurant industry we're better balanced than most," Gayle says. "We can be home because we hired great staff." Sunday dinner is a big meal, Nick says. "We try to make it nice for the kids, to cook food they really like." They grill lamb chops or hamburgers for the kids and salmon or other fish for themselves. The kids also like fondue, Nick says.

            They had a long, narrow farm table made so that all seven of them could sit close together to talk and joke around, Gayle says. "There's a lot of teasing," she says. "How else could so many people get along so well? You have to be able to tease each other."

The white, glass-front cabinets lining the ochre walls lend a country feel to the kitchen, but this room leans more toward Mediterranean than country cozy. A decorative wrought-iron rack stands in the corner, large terracotta-colored tiles pave the floor, and speckly granite countertops stretch along both sides of the room. "I wanted the natural feel," Gayle says. "The granite and tiles make it warmer, more Mediterranean."

            They chose their appliances carefully to keep their costs down. "It was more important to have a room to put them in than to have a Viking stove," Gayle says. The cooktop, a 36-inch KitchenAid with five burners, and the refrigerator, which tucks into a nook in the wall, work just fine for them.

            But they splurged on a high-end KitchenAid dishwasher. Its floor-to-counter design means more space. They needed a well-made machine, Gayle says. "You know how kids are when they're loading the dishwasher."

            Expanding the kitchen into the dining room created some challenges. But anyone who's visited Olives knows that the Mourgides are skilled decorators. The subterranean restaurant, with its murals and eclectic furniture, feels more like an ocean-side bistro than a basement in Pittsford. Gail has used these skills at home, as well.

            "Everything is mix-match," Gayle says. "That's what makes your house a home, not a store showcase."

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