News / USA

'Personal Touch' Helps Family Eatery Thrive

Young customers enjoy a meal at Primo Family Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.
Young customers enjoy a meal at Primo Family Restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.
Deborah Block
Many small, family-owned businesses in the United States are struggling to survive because, along with the sluggish economy, they face stiff competition from well-known chain stores and restaurants.

However, one small, family-owned restaurant just outside of Washington, D.C., is not only surviving, it's thriving.

The Primo Family Restaurant has been a popular dining spot in Alexandria, Virginia, for more than 25 years. Customer C.A. Savoy comes here because he doesn't like the atmosphere or food at the chain restaurants.

“Everything in here is home cooking," Savoy says. "It’s all fresh food and delicious.”

Server Tina Mitrakas has worked at Primo’s since it opened. “I like my customers. Everybody is friendly. I like the people I work with. It’s like my second home.”
'Personal Touch' Helps Family Restaurant Thrivei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Deborah Block
June 18, 2012 2:09 PM
The restaurant business is very competitive in the United States and many people choose to eat out at well-known chain restaurants. But one small, family-owned restaurant in Virginia is not only surviving, it's thriving. VOA's Deborah Block tells us why.

Lynne Sepple's son Nick is here, celebrating his birthday. “My son has been here since he was six days old. He’s been here once a week since then and now he’s 10.”

Mary Wise, who often stops by after work, says Primo’s feels comfortable.  “It is a place where you can consistently have good food, not too expensive. You know you’re never going to be confronted with something that’s a surprise. I think people like that.”

Another appeal, she says, is owner Jim Nicopoulos who is often seen mingling with patrons in the dining room.

“I like to get involved with my clients," he says. "I find out about them. I touch them. I have to be involved with my customers and my staff at the same time.”

Everyone calls him Jimmy, including Savoy and his wife who are long-time patrons.

“We’ve become part of Jimmy’s family now," Savoy says. "He refers to Joyce and I as his mother and father.”

Nicopoulos bought Primo’s five years ago, and it is truly a family business, from the old photos of relatives on the wall, to the dining area, where his father-in-law seats patrons, to the kitchen, where his cousin Spiro Routoulas prepares Greek specialties.

“He’s a funny guy," Routoulas says. "He comes inside the kitchen and tastes what I make. Oh, it’s fun.”

Besides the food and friendliness, Nicopoulos believes Primo’s has another appeal over the chain restaurants.

“Chain restaurants have to go through a process of buying their food from large industries and distributors," he says. "We can get our produce local and our meats.”

Elizabeth Bessel notices the difference. That's why she stays away from the nearby chains.

“I don’t find the food [there] to be that great," she says. "When I eat here, Jimmy will come to the table and tell us that he got that produce from somebody’s farm.”

Nicopoulos thinks there’s room in the neighborhood for both family and chain restaurants.

Customer C.A. Savoy agrees. “It’s been here for 25 years and I see it being here for 25 more years.”

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid