HUNTINGTON, NY – It is estimated that more than 1,000 meals have been served to date at Huntington Hospital, provided by the Greek Grill for the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19.
The Mavromoustakos family originally from Cyprus owns the Greek Grill and has a loyal following in the area since 2004. Both the founder, Konstantinos Mavromoustakos, and his son, John, who has a staff role in the business, belong to the so-called "vulnerable groups.” This, however, is an additional incentive for them to make a contribution on improving the quality of life of hospital staff.
“We work with a team called Huntington Hospital Meal For All. We also saw it as an opportunity to give back to this hospital. We bring them salads and a meal that we make, the special of the day. I had open heart surgery and was hospitalized there for two months. I have met them personally and I know the work they do. I feel like I'm giving something back to them. It is the least we can do. One day when we went to deliver dinner there, they asked us to take pictures, but we’re not looking for recognition. What is needed there is much more important,” said John Mavromoustakos, who coordinates the operation of the restaurant.
At Greek Grill, as in any food-related business, the owners were faced with an important dilemma: Should they put a temporary "padlock" on the business or try a new way to work, relying solely on home delivery and take-out? The Mavromoustakos family decided to keep the restaurant open but almost completely eliminate physical contact with the customer.
"My father has cancer, and as I said, I had heart surgery. However, we have decided for our loyal customers that we have to remain open in some way. The hygiene protocols we apply are very strict: We all wear gloves and masks, though we do not come into contact with the client. Payment by card is made by phone. The customer does not enter and receives the food without contacting us. We have minimized the risk to the maximum extent possible,” said Mavromoustakos.
The founder of the restaurant, Konstantinos Mavromoustakos, was born in Cyprus and was a refugee from the Turkish invasion. After some time, he returned to Cyprus for business, but returned to the United States in the early 2000s. According to his son, the period of hardship and severe deprivation during the exile has armed him with a greater sensitivity to this now difficult time of the pandemic.
"When such situations arise, my father feels that it is a difficulty he has to go through and he thinks that about what support is need to get through it. We are also in touch with our parish, St. Paraskevi in ??Greenlawn. It is an honor for us to have this role, especially in the case of the hospital. In the midst of the pandemic, you see a lot of negative events, but there are also these positive ones, which give us courage and still keep us here,” said Mavromoustakos.
As of April 22, Huntington, according to official figures released that morning, had 2,404 COVID-19 cases, or 10.63 per 1,000 inhabitants. In Suffolk County, that number is close to 30,000 (29,063), with the restrictions on travel and social distancing in effect.
“Those who work in the restaurant follow the daily routine home – work – home. So we managed to stay open without any problems,” concluded Mavromoustakos.