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 Aidan Leggio, 18, of Sterling Heights, works behind the counter at Estia Greek Street Food in Warren. Estia opened in Warren two years ago and offers carryout, delivery and curbside service.

Aidan Leggio, 18, of Sterling Heights, works behind the counter at Estia Greek Street Food in Warren. Estia opened in Warren two years ago and offers carryout, delivery and curbside service.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Business resumes as owners, employees adapt to changes in Warren, Center Line

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published June 5, 2020

 Sam Chehab, who owns Magic Carpet & Flooring in Warren, said his employees are ready to resume work safely.

Sam Chehab, who owns Magic Carpet & Flooring in Warren, said his employees are ready to resume work safely.

Photo by Brian Louwers

WARREN/CENTER LINE — They’re the places where you gather with family for meals or where you stop to grab a pizza. You go there to buy a six pack or a box of doughnuts. You call on them when you need something for the house or car.

They’re your city’s local businesses, where the employees and the owners often know customers by name and care what’s happening in their lives. Some have built relationships over the years in a community they’ve served for generations.

But these are not normal times, at least for now, and in a marketplace transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners across the region are taking action to stay afloat, safely serve customers and keep employees working.

It’s been tough since March 16, when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order effectively shuttering most public places and the state’s bars and restaurants to indoor service. Detroit’s automakers announced shutdowns two days later, hair and nail services were closed on March 22 and, on March 23, a statewide stay-at-home order effectively ground life to a halt for Michigan’s nonessential workers.

On June 1, Whitmer rescinded the “safer at home” order and announced plans to continue reopening the state. Retailers were permitted to reopen on June 4, with restaurants opening on June 8, subject to capacity limits. In-home services were also permitted to resume.

“We are ready for everything, when everything is set,” said Sam Chehab, who owns Magic Carpet & Flooring on Dequindre Road, north of 13 Mile Road. “We just want to be safe.”

Chehab has owned the business in Warren for 15 years. He said the showroom is typically uncrowded and that all employees have now been instructed to follow safety procedures when work resumes. That includes in-home sales calls and installation services.

“Of course, we will wear a mask and have space between the customers,” Chehab said. “Everybody knows what’s going on right now. Most of the time, I go myself to a customer’s house and try to help them design whatever they need for flooring.”

Chehab said the last 10 weeks were tough, but he remained optimistic.

“Business is shut down. We have a lot of bills. There’s no money coming in. It affected our business, but what can we do? Later on, we can get our money back,” he said.

At Estia Greek Street Food on Mound Road at 12 Mile Road in Warren, the dining room remained closed on June 1, but employees were still serving carryout, delivery and curbside customers. Owner/operator Paul Bittas said the restaurant shut down for four weeks “for the safety of our customers and our crew.”

“Obviously in Warren, GM shut down the Tech Center. They’re about 80 percent of our lunch,” Bittas said. “Right now, we’re just getting through hard times. Hopefully, it will turn around pretty quick.”

Bittas said the large number of daily lunch customers from the Tech Center, the U.S. Army’s Detroit Arsenal and surrounding businesses was a key factor in the decision to open Estia’s second restaurant two years ago. There’s another one in Troy, and they operate a food truck.

“It’s still tough. We’re sustaining,” Bittas said. “Without that lunch boom that we went there for, it’s tough.”

He said employees at Estia are “doing the right things” to make customers feel safe and confident as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.

“We’re following COVID procedures from the Health Department. We’re sanitizing, cleaning everything. We’re doing the right things to keep everybody safe,” Bittas said.

In Center Line, Stosh’s Pizza has been in business on Van Dyke Avenue for 33 years. Owner Stan Jenkins said they haven’t missed a beat since the coronavirus pandemic started but that the situation has made everyone work harder to keep customers confident and safe.

“We’re taking things as safely as we can, extra precautions,” Jenkins said. “It’s definitely a little more work you have to put toward every customer.”

At Stosh’s, the lobby has been closed, but the delivery and drive-thru have remained available and open to serve customers.

“We did already stay on top of washing our hands and being precautious as it is. We kind of already had that down, honestly,” Jenkins said. “We’ve been very fortunate and blessed to kind of not get thrown in a hole like a lot of places.”