Ovelia: Learning by Adjustment & Experimentation Through COVID-19

As we know, there has been a lot of uncertainty regarding COVID19 and what it means for the future of restaurants in our community. Ovelia has taken many new initiatives to ensure its survival during these difficult times, and preparing for the new ways in which people will be dining out when the lockdown is lifted.

There has definitely been a major focus on keeping the food sanitized, clean, and fresh. Additional procedures and extra safety steps have been implemented in conjunction to previous systems that were already in place. Ovelia has invested in new machinery and products to make sure that the packaging is sealed properly and tamper resistant, helping to ease customers worries of any food being contaminated prior to delivery. This also includes sealed cocktails.

Owner Chris Giannakas describes this time as a major experiment, in all aspects of the business. There has been a lot of fact gathering, planning, and preparing. Giannakas researches what happens in other countries that have recently reopened and what works for them, especially in regards to layouts and how to abide by the new social distancing standards. They have also began to adapt to the new economical situation by offering new menu items and smaller portions, one fan favorite being the mini pita sandwiches. Nothing goes to waste in the kitchen at Ovelia, and all hands are on deck. They have also been having fun experimenting, and trying out new recipes.

Chris Giannakas’ late mother’s recipe book, where many of Ovelia’s current recipes come from. Image courtesy of Chris Giannakas.

For restaurants overall, the product might be the same but everything around it is new which can definitely leave business owners stressed. Seeing this as a learning experience, Giannakas is doing all he can to become more knowledgable of the situation. He has been in constant contact with his fellow restaurant owners in the area, owners in different states, and even those in other industries, discussing their experiences, sharing articles, and offering each other support. He wishes the best for everyone in this business, and feels that we are all in this together.

Giannakas believes that the restaurant and hospitality industry are what truly makes New York special. People seek interaction, comfortable environments, and a fun atmosphere. He hopes that the city and state do right by these smaller businesses or fears the repercussions may be seen on many levels, not just our local neighborhood but the culture of NYC as a whole.

Image courtesy of Chris Giannakas.

Passion has been the driving force behind Ovelia and Giannakas ensures us that they are survivors and are not going to give up. “When you close temporarily, you get a sense of wow, what happens with this food and these recipes. It goes beyond business but is a part of our family traditions and culture.” The love behind cooking, gathering together, and keeping these traditions are alive are enough to persevere through these difficult times. Both the owners and staff are really excited to be reopened. Also, for those who miss the popular and requested Rock n Ribs night, rest assured that it will be returning!