General News

Greek Restaurants in Midtown Manhattan Dealing with the Pandemic

January 19, 2021
By Matina Demelis

NEW YORK – Midtown Manhattan has never been so deserted. Many shops and thousands of offices, theaters, music venues, remain closed since last March resulting in a melancholy silence in the city. On 55th Street, one of the largest American banks has a temporary padlock. With a simple announcement posted at the entrance, it says "we are temporarily closed" giving instructions to customers to visit another branch.

Crossing 7th Avenue, we find the restaurant Molyvos, which is temporarily closed. According to a message on the Molyvos website, "We look forward to welcoming you back into our dining room as soon as it is safe for us to do so. Our entire restaurant family wishes you and yours a healthy and happy holiday season and we hope to see you very soon!”

“Our sister NYC restaurant Ousia remains open for takeout and delivery orders, while our Westchester restaurants, Moderne Barn and City Limits Diner remain open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery this season," the message from Molyvos concludes.

A little further on, New York City Center, one of the largest performance venues in the city, located between 6th and 7th Avenues receives more than 300,000 visitors annually, has a sign as well that it is closed until further notice.

One block away, opposite Carnegie Hall is the Greek restaurant Souvlaki GR located in a neighborhood that was buzzing with life and is now more deserted than ever. With a structure for outdoor dining outside the restaurant, the Greek establishment remains open daily. "We are trying to survive. We worked hard with delivery these months. We considered it a bit of a debt to our customers as many shops in the surrounding area have closed. In the summer, things went well and now in the winter we observe all safety measures. But the city and the Governor do not help much. I do not understand what the difference is on Long Island if everything is open or on the holidays when it was so busy and can be opened with 25% capacity for indoor dining and New York suffers all this bullying. In general, there has been help from the government but they don’t work because the main thing is that the city is empty. And we keep whatever employees we can keep so that they do not lose their jobs," manager Errikos Kassar told The National Herald.

Right next to the Greek restaurant is a large building with 330 offices. "Right now there are only 15 occupied. Everything else is empty as everyone works from home. Opposite us is Carnegie Hall, no one knows when it will start up again. The catastrophe is great. I want to believe that with the vaccine in a couple of months and after we get through the big wave, things will get better," Kassar added.

With a large structure for outdoor dining next to the restaurant, Nerai remains open and working with about one third of its staff. "Fortunately, there is this outdoor space on the side without it we would not have survived," said the restaurant's manager, Achilleas Mandroukakis. "When we were forced to close, we all began with delivery to survive. For now, we are doing very well, we are not making a big profit but at least we are working and we have the store open. Of course, we have a big reduction in staff; we had 60 people now we have 25. Now we hope they allow us to open soon because winter is starting and things will be difficult. It will be a challenge. In general, the fact that we had heaters with propane did not help us much because the Fire Department came and because we had a roof on the outdoor dining structure we were told to remove them. So, we installed electric heaters which do work but when the temperature drops below zero things will be difficult. 80% of the neighborhood is missing. The hotel opposite has been closed since last March. A store next door closed forever after 40 years. All the shops in the neighborhood are deserted."

Estiatorio Milos at 55th Street remains open only for delivery and takeout, while its Hudson Yards location is temporarily closed. Chef and owner Costas Spiliadis says in a message posted on the Milos website, “Just as we are dedicated to the highest quality cuisine, we do not compromise with issues of safety and health. We are following all Health Department guidelines at our restaurants. When you return, we ask that you respect social distancing for everyone’s safety. Our team has been working hard for the last few months to put together processes and procedures to ensure that our food will be offered to you in the safest way possible.”

“We hope that our food connection will ease the burden of these unprecedented circumstances that we all live in,” Spiliadis’ message concludes.

Avra has kept open one of its two locations, Avra Madison at 60th Street, which operates with special outdoor dining structures designed for two people each. The restaurant also offers delivery and pick-up orders.


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