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I’ve always loved the rush of retail. I think It comes from being from a real entrepreneurial Greek family. We owned a restaurant/diner for 30 years in Detroit called The Meat Town Inn. Yes, that was the name—it was located in the meatpacking district of downtown Detroit—not as chic as NYC by any stretch of the imagination.
I started working there at age five or five. This is what Greek kids do. My dad was the cook, my mom ran the front and was head waitress and all-around foil to my father. And when my sister turned five she joined the crew, too.
I loved working at the restaurant because my parents gave me responsibilities, whether it be filling the salt and pepper jars, or washing glasses or when I got “promoted” at age six to the cashier post. Can you imagine? Me on an apple box counting out change without help of a calculator. My mother would always warn me to never run out quarters or single bills—or else!
To this day, whenever we are low in change at Decades, I hear my mother, and my stomach tightens.
Anyhow, people came to the Meat Town Inn to be fed and entertained. Folks loved interacting with my parents—especially my dad who had a sign on the kitchen wall saying—“This ain’t no Burger King—you get it my way—or you don’t get the G’ Damn thing”
My dad would come out from the back and meet the new clients—if you were a male, he usually would take your tie, and put it on our tie of shame wall. If you were a lady, you would get a hug and a little peck. (He was a total flirt!).
It just made people feel more connected to my parents and the Meat Town Inn. I have never forgotten that.I remember how quiet it was before the lunch rush—my mom typing out the specials--swanky frankies were my favorite. And then boom. At 11:15—lunch rush and all Greek hell would break loose. My family would be running around in complete disarray for two hours straight. It seriously was insane. I would be juggling four plates with steaks on them, to making vodka tonics (yeah, at about age 12) to ensuring we did not run out of change.
I loved the multitasking. The commerce. The teamwork.
Throughout my retail career, whether it be at Decades, Virgin Retail, or at Disney, I truly took all those lessons to heart.
I’m off to the bank. We are low on 5s!