The world has seen better times.
I worked for 15 years in restaurants from Connecticut to Florida. The impact this virus is having on the service industry is catastrophic. Many beloved restaurants in DC will no longer be in existence when this is over.
I went to one of my favorite DC Restaurants, Parthenon, to find out how they are doing. I’m Greek, they’re Greek. Gotta support the Mother-Country. I wanted to ask about what they’re doing to help the servers and the wait staff through all of this because their staff is like family. Many of them have been there for decades.
I watched two servers and the manager Gail Toomey and the owner, Pete Gouskos work the phone and the to-go and delivery orders (yes, delivery) for two hours. They were flooded with calls. Some patrons chose delivery and one of the servers was running those orders to people’s homes. Others picked up at the curb and Gail ran the order out to them. The rest came in to pick up their food.
Everyone who came in to pick up their dinner brought their “we’re all in this together” spirit and it was heartwarming. Gail even asked a long-time customer to grab the phone and put them on hold – that just conveys how neighborhood-friendly of a restaurant this has become.
As to be expected, Gail said she’s never seen anything like this.
“Monday night [3/16/20] the restaurant was fully opened. I guess at about five o’clock was when we got the order that we had to keep everybody seated six feet apart and we could have no barstools in our bar and we couldn’t serve anybody standing. That was the strangest thing ever to look at your bar and not have one stool at it and nobody would be able to stand up. We quieted down probably Monday around nine o’clock. Got everybody out. I called last call at 10 because we had to have everybody out of the restaurant by 10 o’clock and we locked our doors. Tuesday we actually started little by little to do carry out, but we hadn’t advertised or let anybody in our neighborhood know yet. Thank God. Thank God we are a very, very neighborhood-oriented restaurant.”
Gail said, “Our neighborhood built us. They made us. We’ve been here for 32 years. Our bar for 18.”
An interesting twist of the new rules for restaurants is that they can actually serve alcohol as long as the customer shows they are of legal age. You can’t just call up and say, hey can you bring me two cases of beer – you do have to order food along with it.
No Ouzo to go either!
Pete agreed with Gail, saying he has never seen anything like this. “Even in 9/11 we were busy. But now…”
He said they have rotated the staff so everyone gets an opportunity to come in and make money. they are rotating the cooks to try to accommodate them for the hard days ahead that are coming.
What do they want you to know and how can you help?
They have a server or two coming in nightly to take orders. They make $4.43 an hour, so please be sure to tip them, and tip them well.
Purchase Gift Cards. This helps the restaurant bring in money now that they can use to pay bills and staff and you can use it when they are back up and running.
Parthenon is located at 5510 Connecticut Ave NW, just south of the Chevy Chase Circle. As of right now, they are still operating the Carryout and Delivery orders, please help them while getting yourself a fantastic dinner at the same time.