Its a Thursday afternoon. The lunch crowd has finally thinned out, and Nick Asimakis, owner of the Hylander Family Restaurant on Detroit Road in Lakewood, has a rare moment to rest. But even his busiest days are a far cry from the 15-plus hour days he put in seven days a week when he bought the restaurant three years ago.
The first year that I opened, I was here open to close, Asimakis says. I missed a lot out of my children.
Asimakis recalls those early days and what its like to serve other people when you would rather be spending time watching your children grow.
Thats why Asimakis decided to close his restaurant on his busiest day of the week Sunday so he and his employees could spend more time with their families.
Its a busy day; no question about it as far as dollars go, Asimakis says. Its (at) the point where dollars dont mean everything. And, its been pretty good with the employees and helped morale a lot.
Sunday is a stressful day for everybody, he says. One, you want to be home with your family, and two, you see everybody out with their family.
While there have been a few complaints from customers, Asimakis says the response has been generally favorable. They sort of tip their hat that Im doing it, he says. I guess theyre giving me the support to justify what I did.
Many of the Sunday regulars now come on Saturday, and much to his surprise, Monday mornings have been busier since the change.
The Sunday crowd accounted for about 10 percent of business, in terms of gross dollars, Asimakis says. But with the decrease in utilities, not having to pay wages, and the increase on other days, he doesnt expect any significant long-term losses.
His action has certainly caught his fellow restaurateurs by surprise.
They call me up (asking) Are you nuts? I say, No, Im not nuts. Im enjoying my life. These are the same people (who) have problems with labor and finding good help. The biggest commodity in this business is your employees. They can either make you or break you.
Asimakis also owns TNT Cleaning Services, which provides floor-cleaning services to a variety of businesses, including restaurants. The workers clean about 1 million square feet a day, but never on a Sunday, Asimakis says its even written into the contracts.
And how will the Asimakis family spend its Sundays now? They moved within walking distance of their church in Rocky River, where his daughter attends Sunday school and his son is an altar boy. And rest assured there will be no phones and no pagers to destroy the quiet.
Daniel Jacobs (email@example.com) is senior editor at SBN.