The past year has hit small businesses hard, but Chicago Greek owners Laura Andrews and Tassos Spentzos managed by being one of the first restaurants to successfully offer curbside pickup.
“That first week we were all scared,” Spentzos said. “Business went down and we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
They decided to cut the hours of operation by two hours in order to make it through and they began curbside and take out. “From that it just started building up because the casinos closed, that’s what helped us,” he said.
Andrews and Spentzos agreed that many never knew they existed, and that changed rather quickly.
“We really gained a lot of customers from this,” he said.
Andrews said that mandates from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) did provide challenges once they were able to open, but they worked to lessen the hardship and did very well.
“I tried to spend a lot of time on social media sites telling people what was going on,” she said. She also used those tools to let customers know about the menu, pricing and protocol for ordering. The easiest rule to follow, however, was cleanliness standards, because they always had high standards anyway.
“Customers were looking for cleanliness and I think we came through for them,” she said.
They also stuck to the requirements of gloves and masks and were able to let customers know the importance of following those standards as well.
“We just told them we are a small mom-and-pop business and we can’t afford to be fined,” she said. Most customers understood.
Spentzos and Andrews were also able to take advantage of the time by upgrading the restaurant for a fresh, homey feel.
“We were able to convert from a sit-down restaurant to completely closed, and that’s what made us able to remodel and fix the floor,” Spentzos said.
The restaurant employees also participate in the Mesquite Cares’ program, Delivering with Dignity.
“Citizens here apply based on their financial needs to receive meals and the City of Mesquite program has picked out five restaurants who they felt were COVID compliant,” and they prepare approximately 50 meals at a time, Andrews said. “Three different meals for each person or family.”
The owners do receive a stipend, plus small businesses are given an extra boon during the uncertain times.
The program was made possible through grants received from the Cares Act, the couple said.
“Recipients are anonymous, but we’ve had a few of them that have written us letters saying we are their favorite meals and they appreciate it,” Andrews said.
“It was worth it just to get one person that appreciated it,” Spentzos said.
Chicago Greek opened in March of 2017, and serves Chicago-style sandwiches and Greek fare.
“I think the greatest fallacy is we are just a Greek restaurant,” Andrews said. “And it’s all authentic.” Spentzos is originally from Greece, and many recipes were his mother’s.
“We make most of the stuff here by hand,” she said.
One of the two are always on site, which gives the customer service they offer that special touch, she said.
The future is bright for the popular establishment and the Chicago Greek family plans to continue serving Mesquite and the surrounding area.