Greek restaurant bounces back after unexpected closure

Athens Cafe in San Jose offers a true Greek experience

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Greek restaurant is quickly bouncing back after an unexpected closure.

Emergency closures can happen at any time to even the most diligent kitchen staff. News4Jax recently went to Athens Cafe in San Jose to see how the crew is recovering from a recent run-in with pests and how they're cleaning up their act.

Though Jacksonville may be thousands of miles away from the Mediterranean, Sam Savvidis said Athens Cafe on St. Augustine Road is the closest you can get to a true Greek experience.

"This is the same food you will find if you go to Greece -- anywhere in Greece," said Savvidis, the owner of Athens Cafe.

For more than two decades, he has worked hard to offer Greek food while sharing his culture with the community. The walls of the cafe are covered with Greek art, while music and photos fill the restaurant.

So when health inspectors said they found roaches throughout the kitchen last month, the three-day closure that followed was hard to swallow.

"We were caught by surprise and so we took action in trying to bring the right companies in to rectify the problem," Savvidis said.

The problem, according to Savvidis, was a combination of renovations to the shopping plaza and a pest control company that wasn't getting the job done.

"Because of that issue, the previous pest control company was fired and new ones were brought in that did the job," Savvidis said.

The restaurant landed a perfect score during a follow-up inspection. But it took a financial hit.
Savvidis said he lost nearly $8,000 to $10,000. It's unfortunate, but he's confident he'll bounce back.

"To my surprise, every single customer that came that day and noticed the closure," Savvidis said. "On Monday, they were ready to come in."