Bryan St.George (pictured) is the chief operations officer of Little Greek Fresh Grill. He has spent the last 29 years in the restaurant business both domestically and overseas. Little Greek is based in Tampa, Fla., and has 42 locations in six states: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.
To be honest, there has been some positive impact from the pandemic on some store locations. This statement may surprise you, as typically you hear all the negative impact we have all endured. A couple of our stores that struggled building sales in their markets had owners who really felt the need to help the community during this pandemic. Through their involvement with the local hospitals, supplying them with meals and snacks which were greatly appreciated by the staff, meals have now turned into frequent catering events while the medical staff have become regulars. Those stores have seen a substantial lift of about 30%-plus in sales versus prior to COVID-19.
As you can also imagine, we have a couple of locations positioned in malls, along with tourist areas, and they have not seen the bounce-back that the rest of the system has managed to achieve. Losing catering business, in some cases, impacted those locations by 15%-20% of sales.
Business districts that have decided to keep office areas closed as the pandemic continues also have [meant that lunch-focused locations in those areas have] taken a hit. Sites such as those have managed to hang on by utilizing third-party delivery companies, curbside service and internal marketing efforts.
As a franchisor we have worked with locations to help with marketing efforts such as direct mailers, third-party delivery service promotions where the third party contributes marketing support, and new menu options to engage our loyal customer base, all while not collecting a marketing fund at this time. At Little Greek we understand the need to come together as a family and help support each other.
Regardless of your situation the recipe for success remains the same: Continue to deliver a consistent fresh product, in a safe, friendly environment while improving and moving forward to service our guests and meet their expectations. We will get through this stronger, wiser, and with a lot more appreciation for our staff and customers alike.