ONEONTA _ Capresso serves fancy coffees, hot and cold. Gyro Stop specializes in Greek food. The proposed Country Buffet will feature country-style American food.
Owners of the three Oneonta-area eateries said they are offering items that differ from menus at existing restaurants. Good food, good prices, specialties and variety are ingredients to success, they said.
Niche marketing is a key to doing well locally in a tough economy, said Rob Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Otsego County Chamber. Another component to successful businesses is studying market options, he said Wednesday.
The National Restaurant Association said the industry will remain a cornerstone of the economy this year despite the economic downturn. Restaurants will continue to adapt to the latest menu trends and consumer preferences, the trade group said on its website.
In the town of Oneonta on Wednesday, Gus Kavrazonis, owner of Gyro Stop at 381 Chestnut St., said the West End needed a place that served something other than pizza or fast food. The restaurant serves gyro sandwiches, souvlaki, salads, hamburgers and Greek dishes and desserts.
Kavrazonis said lunch or dinner for two would cost between $10 and $15. His wife, Irene, is helping with the business, and so are her parents, who have three decades of experience operating diners in New York City.
Gyro Stop opened in December, and customers say they are happy to see ``something new'' in the West End, said Maria Gatanas, Kavrazonis' mother-in-law. The family knew about Oneonta because they spent time in Sidney when Gatanas' husband, Elias, would go hunting, she said. They moved from Long Island to Oneonta three years ago.
Gyro Stop is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant seats about a dozen customers.
Maria Gatanas said customers from Cooperstown, Otego and Unadilla said they heard about the restaurant from friends, which is the best type of advertising. Restaurants that serve good food at good prices will succeed, she said.
Christos Georgakopoulos agreed and said that the area population needs ``a nice country buffet'' restaurant.
``The more empty stores people see, especially on Main Street, the worse for the town it will be,'' Georgakopoulos said. He said he bought the former Burger King at 525-529 Main St. in the East End.
After about $125,000 in renovations, the building will reopen as the Country Buffet restaurant, possibly in April. Prices will be $8 for lunch and $11 for dinner, with reduced prices for children, he said.
``This is the future of my kids and grandkids,'' he said.
Georgakopoulos, his wife, Koula, and his three sons already own and operate Athens Famous Gyros and Mama Nina's restaurants. Georgakopoulos said he does the construction and setup, and his sons do the decor and customer work.
``I've been through many recessions in this country over my lifetime,'' said Georgakopoulos, 62, who came to the United States from Greece when he was 3.
Success depends on having a positive attitude, he said, and welcoming customers as friends first and customers second.
``The money will come,'' he said.
Last week, his son and daughter-in-law, Anastasio and Serina Georgakopoulos, opened Capresso, a coffee bar, at 215 Main St., across the street from the Athens Famous Gyros restaurant.
Anastasio, who also manages Mama Nina's, said there was no question that Oneonta could support another coffee-and-sandwich shop.
The Main Street downtown area already has the Latte Lounge, the Oneonta Bagel Co., Elena's Sweet Indulgence and the under-construction Common Ground.
At Capresso, Anastasio said, the arrangement of couches, tables and chairs offers a home-like atmosphere where customers can relax or work at their computers.
Capresso is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serves espresso-based drinks, flavored coffees, pastries, pre-made sandwiches and desserts. Customers could buy a cup of coffee and pastry for about $3.50, said Anastasio, a self-described barista who runs the coffee operation.
Sandwiches cost about $4, he said. Capresso serves Seattle's Best Coffee, and he created the ``Freddochino,'' a frozen cappuccino drink that sells for about $3.50.
``Everything is a specialty,'' he said.