Anatoli and Eleftheria Amanatidis offer free family dinner to Melburnians in need

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People lined up outside Eleni’s Kitchen and Bar in Yarraville on Thursday afternoon as Anatoli and Eleftheria Amanatidis handed out free family dinner packs of roasted chicken with lemon potatoes.

Despite losing 80 percent of their revenue due to the current lockdown in Melbourne, the Greek sisters have been distributing a variety of free food over the last four weeks to those in need. This includes their famous pastitio and chicken souvlakia.

Eleftheria tells The Greek Herald this initiative was launched as a way to give back to the Yarraville community, which has supported the sisters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, we don’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s very daunting and very hard times for everyone, not just for small businesses but a lot of people who may have lost their jobs or they’re getting less income now,” Eleftheria says.

“So it’s not just to try and brighten their mood or even their day for that moment when they come and collect something, but it’s also to show our support to our customers and any new customers during the lockdown that have been supporting us.”

Eleni’s Kitchen and Bar. Photo supplied.

Eleni’s Kitchen and Bar opened in Yarraville about four years ago after the sisters decided they wanted to open a Greek restaurant to “share our Greek experience and our culture and our food to everyone else.”

They also had a strong historical connection to the Melbourne suburb as their grandparents, Eleni, who the restaurant is named after, and Dimitri, owned the first Greek restaurant in Yarraville, their great grandfather was the founding priest of the local Greek Orthodox church, and other relatives also had businesses in the area.

“I guess opening here is just like coming back to our roots and connecting to that history,” Eleftheria says.

This strong connection to the area and community is another reason why the Greek sisters decided to stay open during the lockdown and continue helping out whoever they can.

“We get alot of people that say, ‘thank you for staying open because your food is helping me get through the lockdown’,” Eleftheria says.

“And that’s something I myself have noticed. You don’t really pay much attention to it but food plays such a big part in how we feel as well and you know, everyone’s got their own comfort food and things like that but it’s a good feeling… I’m actually helping these people.”

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