One of Airdrie’s longest-serving Greek restaurants is temporarily reinventing itself to keep business alive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After temporarily shutting down March 24, Paros on Main reopened a week later, offering delivery and takeout.
“You have to adapt,” said owner Louis Tzigalanis. “We went from mostly serving customers inside, having a nice dinner with full service, to pretty much turning it into a quick-service restaurant, with a focus on pick-up and delivery. We’re implementing a new menu with new price points to accommodate that.”
Orders can be placed through the restaurant and delivery app SkipTheDishes.
Like other restaurants, Paros experienced a significant drop in sales in March, as the new novel coronavirus spread throughout Canada and governments implemented new measures to combat the outbreak, such as banning gatherings and urging residents to stay home.
“We laid off pretty much our whole workforce, so it’s just the family working for now,” Tzigalanis said. “But we’re going to hire people back, eventually.”
Paros opened in downtown Airdrie in December 2002. The family-owned restaurant specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, including Greek staples like souvlaki skewers with tzatziki sauce, calamari, lemon-roasted potatoes and traditional Greek salads.
The new menu still includes those favourites, according to Tzigalanis, but at a lower price, due to the restaurant’s decreased overhead.
“It’s just a smaller, simpler menu that will cater to what most people were used to,” he said. “We can still trim it down as far as pricing goes, so we don’t have to charge people an arm and a leg.”
While the pandemic has been devastating for small business-owners, he said support from residents has been evident throughout the crisis.
“It’s really nice to see how much Airdrie is supporting not just us, but the whole community, when it comes to small business,” he said. “Specifically, Shop Local: Airdrie on Facebook – it’s great to see that. Every day, there’s a new post about someone helping another small business out and giving ideas. That’s why we love Airdrie so much.”
As its own thank you to the community, Tzigalanis said Paros offered free care packages March 24, before the restaurant temporarily shuttered. The packages were stocked with some of the restaurant’s leftover inventory, he said.
“We just said, ‘Hey, let’s make a little takeout package for whoever wants to come grab it for free,’” he said. “There were quite a few [takers], and I think we ran out in less than an hour. It was nice to have that, and we just wanted to help out anyway we could.”
With restaurants in Alberta banned from offering sit-down service, as of March 27, Tzigalanis said he expects Paros to maintain its new format for the foreseeable future.
“Personally, I think it’s going to stay this way for a while,” he said. “It’ll slowly start to adjust, but it probably won’t be full dining rooms again, right away. Maybe we’ll go back to half seating, and then spaced-out seating and then, once people feel more comfortable, we can go back to normal.
“It’s going to take a while though, so I think restaurants will need to do anything they can to have some sort of income and cash flow.”
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