Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?
I’m the owner of George’s Greek Village here in St Catharines. We just celebrated our 4th Anniversary October 05. It’s been an interesting four years, especially during the last six months. It been overwhelming to say the least. We have an unbelievable location here along the Welland Canal. It’s always a treat to see the many ships that pass us daily.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business？
Covid-19 at the very beginning impacted everybody’s business. There was panic everywhere for the first couple of weeks, we were left with takeout as the only source of service we could offer our customers, so we had to adjust very quickly to takeout only. When the dust settled, and the public had more information about Covid-19 business started picking up as well.
What changes in your operations has Covid-19 pandemic been the cause of?
We had to start changing on a daily basis. We had to change how the business functioned. We are blessed with such a large restaurant, it made it easier for us to set our protocols that were given by our government. Our ability to adapt to the changes has allowed us to be one of the leaders in the restaurant industry for Covid-19 safety.
What kind of support have you received to help you during the Pandemic？
I can’t say enough about the Niagara Region. We have a very loyal customer base, we received so much support from many people. They come in and always ask how we are doing. They understand what the small businesses are going through.
We also believe in “you give as you receive”. We had our famous “Chicken Kebob Dinner” on special for 3 months during Phase 1. We discounted the meal by $4.00. It was a win win win promotion. It created a buzz with our customers as they loved the special and supported us, they were discounted the meal and the real winner was Community Care, $2 was donated for every chicken kebob dinner that was sold. With the overwhelming support from our customers we were able to donate over $6000.00 to Community Care.
How do you and your team stay motivated during these trying times?
As long as people are coming in, the staff is happy. I’m happy. Like I said, it’s changing every single day. My manager and I sit every night and strategize. What can we do better? Daily change motivates us to do better and to make sure that customers feel safe coming into the restaurant and that they enjoy their experience with us….because it is tough out there. It’s very tough.
What do your customers think of the changes?
Our customers feel very safe coming into the restaurant whether it be dine-in or takeout. We are very fortunate to have patient and understanding customers. This is why they continue to support us.
What unique value do you bring to your customers?
It is a combination of supporting our local community, our great menu, our prices and our excellent staff. Our customers get good value, our biggest complaint is too much food, which is great! Our formula has always been good food, good service, good portions at a great price. It has worked for 4 years, why stop now.
What is the secret in running your business?
Passion!! I’m here 7 days per week, 15 hours a day. I do it because I have a desire for the business. I know we have great quality, and maintaining great quality is another key to our success. If you don’t have passion for this business and don’t put the hours in, it will reflect in your product and customer satisfaction.
What is your vision moving forward?
My vision is to keep this location going strong. Is there room for another restaurant or 2? Sure. I guess we will see what happens and we will leave the expansion for the near future. My goal right now is getting through this pandemic and making sure we keep our 42 employees working. I am blessed with a great staff and manager.
What would you like to say to your current and future customers?
I would like to say thank you to all our customers throughout the Niagara Region. Without them we would not be here today.
And now for something fun, what dish do you recommend to your customers?
One of my favourite dishes is our “Shrimp with tomato and feta” – sauteed shrimp with tomato sauce, feta cheese, and a hint of ouzo to awaken the pallet. It is served with rice, roast potatoes, Greek salad and garlic bread. It is one of our most popular dishes and a hallmark of our fine establishment.