WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A year after closing at the start of the pandemic, a downtown West Palm Beach restaurant is back open for business.
Located along Olive Avenue in downtown West Palm Beach, Monday was a big day for the Hideout Kitchen and Café.
When owner Petro Bikos opened the doors to his breakfast and lunch place, he admitted it was more than a little stressful.
"Definitely anxious, excited and nervous. I couldn't sleep last night, just wondering how the day would go," Bikos said.
The café, nestled in between the Palm Beach County Courthouse and Administration Building, had closed in 2020 when it was Tina's Café.
During the year it was closed, he said it was an opportunity to renovate and rebrand the place. He only received a one-month break on rent and was unable to qualify for aid, forcing him to pay for expenses out of pocket.
"I felt bad closing the store, I had a good crew with me, and unfortunately after being closed a year it's hard to find people to work right now," Bikos said.
An estimated 110,000 restaurants across the country have closed permanently since the pandemic began, but Bikos is happy to be serving customers again.
"Hopefully all (the customers) we had pre-COVID, and the following we had here before starts to come back, so that's what we're hoping for," Bikos said.
His customers mostly come from the surrounding government buildings, including the courthouse and county administration.
Marisol Alers works in a law office a few blocks away from the restaurant.
"We missed him when the pandemic happened, and they had to close down. It was very devastating," Alers said.
"It means a lot, it really does. It makes your day better because you don’t have to go so far for lunch," said county employee Cathy McAleer.
Being closed for a year is something most restaurants could not recover from, but Bikos believes it's now a step toward getting back to normal.
Bikos said he now hopes there are enough downtown workers back in offices, and they know he is back open.
"The people that came back this morning from the offices told us how much they miss us and glad to see we're back open," Bikos said.