The financial toll from coronavirus shutdowns has forced some small businesses to permanently close but a Greek restaurant in New York City is attempting to defy the odds against its survival in the epicenter of a pandemic.
Niko Lamprou opened Niko's Souvlaki in Astoria, Queens, on April 6, the same week where COVID-19 cases in the city is expected to reach its apex and just the day before Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the state's closure of schools and nonessential businesses through April 29.
Lamprou, seen wearing a mask and gloves as he takes customers' orders, took a huge risk in opening his business in what is believed to be the worst economic times since the Great Recession, or maybe even the Great Depression.
While he's complying with the state's rules and only doing delivery and takeouts, the restaurant owner says he's not content with just staying afloat.
"Honestly I'd rather have my place packed with people but I'm sure after a couple of months, if we all stay safe, we're gonna eliminate this virus. Everybody's gonna be healthy," Lamprou told NBC New York.
The latest survey from the National Federation of Independent Business showed that 92% of small business owners say they're negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and about half of them said they can survive for no more than two months under the current state of emergency.
With online orders chipping away the gyro cone, business has been somewhat steady for Niko's Souvlaki; thanks to customers like Caitlin Davis who ordered two Chicken Souvlaki sandwiches on Tuesday.
“The only thing you can do as a supporter of the community and being a New Yorker is to just continue to support small businesses as much as you can," Davis said.
And even though Lamprou's business is just a few days old, he says he plans to donate 100 sandwiches to the nurses and doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in Astoria.