Welcome back to another installment of BizWeek with Jiya. In this report, I am interviewing Mrs. Linardakis, one of the owners of Spartans and Olympians restaurants located in Burke, VA and Kingstowne, VA.
Jiya: Is your restaurant open during COVID-19?
Mrs. Linardakis: Yes, Both of our restaurants, Spartans in Burke & Olympians in Kingstown, have remained open during Covid but we have had to adjust — only carryout & curbside since our dining room is closed.
Jiya: How is COVID -19 affecting your employees and you?
Mrs. Linardakis: Covid has affected everyone in one way or another. We have had to adjust our hours and without our dining room open there have been certain positions that have been omitted. Luckily the people on our team that have wanted to stay working, we have tried to adjust positions, and create a new system with our new curbside addition to be able to employ as many people on our team as we can.
Jiya: How long have you owned your restaurant?
Mrs. Linardakis: Our Burke location, Spartans has been open since 1995. Which makes it 25 years. Time really does fly! Our second location Olympians in Kingstowne has been open since 2003. 17 years this August.
Jiya: Is it a family owned restaurant?
Mrs. Linardakis: Yes! Our parents started Spartans our first location in 1995. And after I got married in 2003 Olympians was opened. We all have been included and always worked together. Actually it was mandatory! After school we always came to help out and on the weekends it was a must. Of course, our schooling was the priority and you could find us doing homework in the office many times. Kind of like my kids do now! About 13 years ago our dad passed away, which was very difficult. It was sudden and he was only 52. He loved the restaurants so much, I think because it was such a labor of love. He was able to support his family and accomplish so much that he was really proud. And he was really proud to be able to bring his family together and have them by his side even when he would go to work. Now of course it was a lot of work and hours spent but he would bring us with him and find a way that we could help so he could fulfill the needs of having a restaurant business as well as always being available for us. He would talk to us constantly about life and the importance of being positive, kind and hard working. And now you will still find all of us, our mom, me, my husband, my brother, my sister, our cousins, and uncle which definitely not only makes it a place you bring your family, but our whole family is there too!
Jiya: What are some of the most popular foods that are being served at your restaurant?
Mrs. Linardakis: Gosh there are so many! We obviously eat here everyday so we have a variety of menu items. I would say the most popular are our Gyro Pita, Our Marinated Grilled Chicken, Greek Salad and Pizza for sure!
My ultimate favorite is the Chicken Souvlaki Dinner with feta fries!
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Jiya: How many customers do you have on an average each day or is it a variety?
Mrs. Linardakis: Well honestly it varies. And before Covid we definitely had many, many more. Now we are just hoping to make sure we can stay afloat to keep ourselves & our staff employed, while continuing our family business with the same consistency, hospitality & kindness through all of this.
Jiya: What was your inspiration to start this restaurant?
Mrs. Linardakis: Our parents came from Greece with $20. Yup, that’s it! They had such motivation to live the American Dream. They worked seven days a week and learned all of the restaurant positions until finally they were able to open their own. Honestly everything they did was through their values of motivation, hard work, attention to detail, hospitality and a lot of kindness. They weren’t scared to work hard and they loved people. They pretty much would never treat or serve anything they wouldn’t give to their own family. And that’s what we continue to live by and work for. Watching our parents was really inspirational and being in the restaurant had not only become our place of work but it is a place that we can have access to many people and perhaps make a difference. In a small way we bring families together to enjoy each other, even our own.
Jiya: Did you create your own recipes?
Mrs. Linardakis: Our dad gathered ideas throughout all of his years in the United States and honestly our mom is the bomb cook!
Jiya: Are you sometimes the head chef at your restaurant or are you more of the manager?
Mrs. Linardakis: We as a family have our roles but mine is directly more Front of House responsibilities and a lot of schedules….of course anything that is needed you have to be ready to jump right in. Our dad always taught us that. He said in any business you have to be able to fill in any position needed.
Jiya: What changes did you need to make because of COVID-19?
Mrs. Linardakis: Wow, Covid. I had no idea it would last this long, and honestly I didn’t realize we were essential actually. So when I first heard the governor was shutting things down, I thought that included us so I hadn’t put much thought into anything else. And it happened so fast so once I found out that we were able to stay open but the dining room had to close, well that required some sleepless nights. We had to figure out not only how to survive jobs that support my family as well as so many on my team, but to survive these 2 restaurants that have been in the family for so long, provide for the community, and do it all while keeping things so so SAFE for my guests and team.
Mrs. Linardakis: Some of the things we had to create were
1. Our Curbside Service (which was the biggest thing) The first weekend was so hectic that we were able to see all the things that went wrong and try to fix them to work much smoother for our guests and our team.
Our team had a huge hand in that. In the first few weeks we would gather at the end of every night and went through the different positions; the bagging, answering phones, taking the food out to the cars and our back of house kitchen team. We would discuss what issues they had and ideas how we could improve it. Then we would try it and basically go through trial, error and adjust until we got it right.
We moved tables around, created a texting service for when guests arrive, an alphabetical system for keeping our tickets organized, and a new system of how we would bag orders to ensure we didn’t Forget anything.
2. We created an online ordering system.
3. We created Pizza Kits where guests could make their own pizza! We made instructions and I had our kids test it out to make sure it was easy for anyone to do which in the end i had the kids make an instructional video!
4. We created Gyro Pita Kits! I mean who doesn’t love a Gyro!
5. We created Weekly Family Meals! This was something I had wanted to try but never got to it so it was the perfect time, We decided on a weekly family menu and have created an online site that guests can order. We have from our awesome Grilled Chicken and Greek Potatoes to a gray of fettuccini with Grilled chicken!
6. We created Breakfast Family platter. I basically tried to think what I would love to be able to pick up to feed my family and decided to come up with this mix of my favorite breakfast items all in one box!
Jiya: Are you thinking of having an outdoor seating if you haven’t already?
Mrs. Linardakis: We don’t have anywhere to create an outdoor seating space unfortunately.
Jiya: Do you have any advice for other restaurant owners?
Mrs. Linardakis: Well, our parents values always seem to steer us in the right direction Motivation, Hard Work, Attention to Detail Hospitality and a lot of Kindness.
Many of the readers may or may not have gone to dine at Spartans, so take it from me that their food is absolutely delicious. Their omelette has excellent fresh veggies, their French toast and pancakes are extremely fluffy, and for their drinks they have a wide variety. After this review and description, I hope the readers of this article are thinking of heading down to Spartans or Olympians.
This article originally appeared on the Lorton Patch