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Riverton Greek restaurant struggles to rebound from pandemic

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 19:04:37-05

RIVERTON, Utah — Local restaurants have been some of the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic.

Now, a family-operated restaurant in Riverton is considering closing its doors for good.

The owner of the restaurant, Geoff Patmides, says The Local Greek is more than just a place to grab a quick gyro — it’s a place to connect, and he hopes to continue making those connections if they can just get through the pandemic.

“You know, it’s gotten to the point where we just can’t afford to stay open,” he said.

READ: Customers flood longtime SLC restaurant on verge of closing with support

Patmides opened his restaurant in Riverton about two and a half years ago, modeling the name and restaurant after his family, specifically his grandmother.

“When I grew up seeing her, she was that Greek figure to me, so when I opened this restaurant, I wanted to represent her in a way,” he said.

And he’s representing her through the traditional recipes served at The Local Greek like gyros, baklava and more.

“I take what I remember, I take what I know, my experience, and I put it here,” Patmides said.

And it’s not just him running the whole show — his wife and two boys are there daily, helping with operations.

“I clean the lobby, I do the register, I bag up the food and stuff,” said Julius Patmides.

Before the pandemic, the restaurant was packed with the lunchtime rush. But back in March, that all changed.

READ: Local businesses form 'Save Utah Jobs' initiative to ask lawmakers for aid

“We closed down for about a month, almost two months, because I didn’t know what was going on. I had to worry about my family, I don’t want anyone getting sick, and I don’t want to be the cause of somebody else getting sick either,” Patmides said.

And it hasn’t gotten any better since then.

“We’ve lost about 65 percent of our business, and it was an immediate drop. It wasn’t like it was coming before, or we could expect it, or we weren’t doing well. No, business was really good and it was an immediate drop,” said Patmides.

On top of the lack of customers, Patmides has also been dealing with equipment issues.

“About a week and a half ago, I had both of my fridges break down. It cost me about $4,000 to fix when I’m not making any money. Where is that coming from?” he said.

He says while it’s been a difficult year and he’s not sure how much longer he can stay open, he’s grateful for everyone who has supported him thus far and is hoping this next round of Paycheck Protection Program loans will bring him a little relief.

READ: Utah businesses look forward to receiving additional COVID-19 relief