As Gul Petrogiannis, owner of the Tiffany Diner in the Northeast, prepared to close up shop Monday afternoon, he said he’s concerned about what will happen to his business.
He said he has already lost 50% of his customers since the coronavirus crisis began.
“We have sixty employees, and I do not know what I would do with my employees yet,” Petrogiannis said. “I will try to stay positive and be there for my staff. That is the biggest concern for me now, to support my employees because they have been with us for many years.”
Petrongiannis said he is not sure he can avoid cutting staff or cutting their pay.
Walter Polasik, a 72-year-old Northeast Philadelphia resident, said social distancing practices will affect his trips to the diner to see his friends and his favorite waitress.
“Everything is shutting down around us, and it is just sad to see,” Polasik said. “I hope it will help contain coronavirus as we stay inside.”
Restaurant staff said the biggest concern is for their livelihood. Jackie Brown has been a waitress at Tiffany Diner for the last eight years and is worried about her tips and paychecks.
“It is a very difficult and tough situation that we will have a hard time making our rent payments,” Brown said. “I am overwhelmed by the uncertainties.”
Bill Scudder, who lives by himself and has come to the diner three times a week for more than fifteen years for his meals and friendly gatherings, said he will feel an emotional impact. He is not sure how long the restaurants will take to reopen.
“We have gathered daily or more than three times a week,” Scudder said. “I am saddened because of the obvious effect on our world. We have to choose social distancing.”
-Text and images by Cynthia Sardar.
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