Andreas Nannos is looking for one last bump in lunchtime traffic this week to make enough money to cover payroll as Mike’s Lunch restaurant closes out a storied run in Glace Bay.
After more than 109 years in business by four separate owners, the eatery that catered to generations of families has gone bankrupt.
Nannos, who took over the business from his father, Steve Nannos, in 2017, said the restaurant was supposed to shut down permanently over the weekend but he’s looking to sell enough inventory to cover the paycheques for his remaining staff.
Mike’s Lunch employed 18 people — most of them full-time — including Nannos senior.
Andreas Nannos said he blames increased competition, the poor local economy and the lack of jobs in the Alberta oilsands that would bring needed income home for the closure.
“There’s a lot of chip trucks opening up. There’s no business, not enough money coming in,” he said in a phone interview on Monday.
He said his father had a “rough go” for the last three years before Andreas took over the business in December 2017.
The family tried new ideas to entice younger people — trivia and wing nights among them — but it did not work, Nannos said.
He said the restaurant could close either on Friday or Saturday.
Longtime customer Marion Worthington found out Monday alongside friend Florence Tompkins that it would likely be their last lunch at their local diner.
“This is like an icon,” Worthington said. “It’s heartbreaking. The food is excellent. The prices are excellent. The staff have all been amazing.”
Tompkins added that she and her husband, like clockwork, buy their grandchildren lunch here each year for grading day. But not this year.
“I can’t believe it’s something that won’t be happening. We won’t be able to do it anymore,” she said, seemingly choked up by the bad news.
In its early years, the greasy spoon was located on the lower section of Commercial Street where the Chicken Shack is located in Glace Bay but it has called Sterling Road home for decades now.
Steve Nannos bought the business in 1970. And Andreas has worked at Mike’s Lunch since he was 12 years old.
Working many shifts in the kitchen, often at the deep fryer instead of outside playing with his friends, it doesn’t need to be said that the restaurant has been Nannos’ life.
Now he’s 40, raising two young daughters — ages two and seven — and he’s left without a job of his own.
“I’m unsure about my future. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the bills I need to pay. I have to figure it out, right?”