What have been your biggest 2020 challenges?
It really came down to the lifeblood of our business - employees and customers. With layoffs inevitable during the initial shutdown, the biggest challenge was keeping as many people employed as possible. We also had to reassure our customers it was still safe to go out to eat and order carry-out. These were both tall tasks, but we did our best.
How have you adjusted to the pandemic?
We implemented curbside carry-out right away and expedited our online ordering capabilities. Fortunately, carry-out was a strong part of our business model before the pandemic happened, so we were poised to hit the ground running when dine-in services were prohibited. To adhere to health department guidelines we also installed barriers, packaged silverware in individual wrapping and placed QR codes on each table, which made it possible to see our menu without physically touching one.
How has your industry changed?
Sadly, the pandemic related restrictions have devastated many independent and mom-and-pop restaurants. It breaks my heart because I know a lot of these people. They have put so much hard work into their businesses and relied on them to support their families. In addition, the pandemic pushed many restaurant workers out of the industry entirely. The labor market was tough enough before the pandemic and this only makes it more of a challenge.
What are your hopes for 2021?
I hope that before 2021 is over we can go back to normal to some extent. Where I grew up, family is everything. It has been tough seeing my grandchildren only a handful of times in the last six months. Likewise, this is the first Thanksgiving our family did not get together. I would like to see all of the traditional elements of human connection return, whether that be a hug of a family member or the handshake of a valued customer.
The Paxos family has been turning lemons into Chicken Lemonato this year at Papa Gyros and they are not giving up anytime soon!
Papa Gyros has been the go-to spot for Mediterranean cuisine in the area for 20 years and they are not going to let a pandemic change that now. Their keys to success have been all about controlling what they can control and adapting to what they cannot. The result has been a resilient restaurant that is not only prepared to endure through the pandemic, but long after it has past.