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Personal Touch' Helps Family Restaurant Thrive

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It is another busy day at Primo Family Restaurant -- a popular dining spot in Alexandria, Virginia for more than twenty-five years. C.A. Savoy says he does not like the atmosphere or food at the chain restaurants. He enjoys Primo’s. “Everything in here is home cooking. It’s all fresh food and delicious." Server Tina Mitrakas has worked at Primo’s since it opened. “I like the customers. Everybody is friendly. I like the people I work with. It’s like my second home.” 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 often stops by after work. She plays the role of Martha Washington, wife of the first US president, at nearby Mount Vernon, where the Washingtons lived. Ms. Wise 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 ever confronted with something that’s a surprise. I think people like that.” Another appeal, she says, is owner Jim Nicopoulos. “I like to get involved with my clients. 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 Mr. Savoy and his wife, who are long-time customers. “We’ve become part of Jimmy’s family now. He refers to Joyce and I as his mother and father.” Jimmy bought Primo five years ago. It is truly a family business - from the photos 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. He comes inside the kitchen and tastes whatever I make. Oh, it’s fun.” “It’s quality control, Greek-style.” Besides the food and friendliness, Jimmy says 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. We can get our produce local, we can get our meat.” Elizabeth Bessel notices the difference and stays away from the nearby chains. “I don’t find the food to be that great. When I eat here, Jimmy will come to the table and tell us that he got that produce from somebody’s farm.” Jimmy says he thinks there is room in the neighborhood for both family and chain restaurants. His customers agree. “It’s been here for twenty-five years and I see it being here for twenty-five more years.” Deborah Block, VOA’s News, Alexandria, Virginia.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 47 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: VOA
Director: VOA
Views: 129
Posted by: vecttra on Jun 30, 2012

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.

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