From heartbreaking to groundbreaking, how a gas station/market found a way to survive

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//April 22, 2020

From heartbreaking to groundbreaking, how a gas station/market found a way to survive

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//April 22, 2020

Katina Bozikas is exhausted. As an essential business owner during the COVID-19 crisis, she and her husband Dimitri, have been working long hours, focused on keeping both her customers and staff safe.

The Bozikas’ opened the Daisy Hill Kitchen & Grill in Allentown in 2005. It’s a gas station and upscale grill-style restaurant and market on a normally busy intersection. As Bozikas panned the area with her phone’s camera for me to see, a single car drove by.

Daisy Hill Kitchen & Grill has seen a reduction in customers at the gas pumps, but an increase in in-store traffic. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” she said. “I never thought we would experience anything like this in my life.”

With the reduced traffic, there has been an impact at the gas pumps. Conversely, the market and grill have seen an uptick in business.

The Bozikas’ have made innovative choices to help drive business, including selling toilet paper and sanitizers, products they don’t normally carry. “They’ve been really good sellers,” Bozikas said.

Signage reminding customers to wear a mask and stand 6 feet apart are posted throughout the establishment. “Face masks are required,” she said, “and if they don’t have one, we give them one.”

Daisy Hill gives every customer a free face mask with purchase. “We are able to get masks from our purveyor,” Bozikas said, “and we felt having customers pay for a mask wasn’t good customer service. We don’t know how long the supplies will last but we will provide them as long as we can.”

Per the governor’s order, all customers must wear masks at Daily Hill. The business is providing each paying customer with a free mask while supplies last. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Employees all also wear a mask, hat and gloves, and stand safely behind Plexiglas, protecting both customers and staff. The gas pumps outside are sanitized every hour and the inside of the store is cleaned and sanitized throughout the day and overnight.

“We are working 24 hours to make sure our customers and staff are safe,” Bozikas said. “We keep doors open for extra ventilation. This virus travels so quickly and we are doing everything we can. I just don’t know how much more we can do.”

While Bozikas understands why the state mandated the shutdown, she would like to see all businesses be able to get back to a new normal open, but with strict safety precautions in place.

“I want to see things moving again,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking for my fellow business owners. I want to see the world open back up.”