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General News

Niko’s Souvlaki Opened during the Pandemic, Featured in WSJ

ASTORIA – Perhaps at the worst moment of the pandemic, when the restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus went into effect, Nikolaos Lamprou opened his new restaurant, Niko's Souvlaki. It was his dream for years, but he never expected to open his restaurant at such a time, in the midst of a global pandemic. The corner at 19-33 Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria now has a blue and white background.

Lamprou, 28, opened the restaurant on April 6, and since then he has not stopped taking orders. He was featured in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on May 26, noting that the “business has been averaging 70 to 90 orders a day.”

Lamprou is now looking forward to the day he can open the restaurant’s 30-seat dining room, WSJ reported.

He told WSJ, “We’ll have many more people, because so many have already tried the delivery. They’ll be curious to see, who is this crazy guy who opened during the pandemic?”

In an interview with The National Herald, Lamprou said of choosing the location and opening during the pandemic, “It simply came to my notice then. This corner here, I really wanted it. Souvlaki was missing from this neighborhood. I started working on the store before the coronavirus appeared. As soon as I was ready to open, then everything closed. I hesitated, I didn't know what to do. On the other hand, I saw everything closed and I wanted to contribute to the neighborhood. So, I said I would take a chance. Certainly, it was a risky decision.”

Of the neighborhood with its many Hellenes, Lamprou told TNH, “customers so far are about 50-50, Greeks and Americans. It's my honor to serve them. They support me and I thank them for that.”

Luck seems to have been on his side since just the second day in business, NBC News visited him for an interview. “It was great that an American channel came to the store. It definitely helps,” Lamprou told TNH.

Niko's Souvlaki serves gyro made on the premises, souvlakia, appetizers and salads while for the celebration of Easter, kontosouvli, spit-roasted chicken, and kokoretsi were on the menu. The restaurant seats thirty and in the summer months outdoor seating will be available. The chairs are handmade from Crete. Niko’s Souvlaki is open 12 noon-8:30 PM for delivery and take-out orders.

Lamprou came to the U.S. six years ago from Greece. He grew up in Piraeus while his roots are in Aegina. “In the summers I went to the island and I always worked in restaurants there. I have loved this job ever since and I knew that one day I would open my own restaurant,” he told TNH.

After arriving in the U.S., he obtained a license in real estate and began to work while planning how to make his dream a reality. “I am young and have an appetite for work. I always look at things with optimism. What we are experiencing is definitely unprecedented and that is why we must be careful. But it will pass and we will return to our daily lives. And then, I want people to come and meet me, to get to know Greek hospitality.”

Niko's Souvlaki also recently donated souvlakia to the doctors and nurses at Mount Sinai Queens hospital in Astoria. “I personally went there and delivered the souvlakia. We love our community and as a new business we want to give something to those people who work hard to keep us safe, especially in this difficult time we are going through,” he added.

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