Binghamton emergency grant keeps family in business

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Binghamton’s Small Business Grants have proven to be a saving grace for local restaurants like Despina’s in the town.

By making homemade Greek dishes, Despina and her son, Jimmy, have created a family staple.

“It’s a great relationship. It’s a different dynamic that not many people are used to. There’s not really a hierarchy here, it’s just like, go get that, okay I get it, or sometimes you just have to get out of the way of the boss. She knows her stuff. I’m just here to keep it online, ”said Jimmy Gray, co-owner and manager of Despina.

Like any small business during COVID-19, Despina’s faced typical challenges along the way, but thanks to Binghamton’s Emergency Grants program, they were one of more than 20 sites to receive small funding for help pay the bills.

“The fact that we were able to get a grant or a small loan is extremely beneficial as taxes continue to be imposed. The bills continue. Even if they delay it or if it’s an abstention, whatever the case, you still have to pay it eventually, ”Gray said.

But as soon as their open sign appears on the door, customers are already ordering their lunch online. It’s a new target for the family business during COVID-19, and orders are pouring in.

“We’re just trying to make it as easy as possible. We write them down and put them right on the ticket holder, ”Gray said.

Working with four delivery companies and keeping their business stocked with product isn’t always easy, but this family’s willingness to adapt has kept Despina growing.

“We’re just giving people the ability to order as much as possible. Are their commission rates very high and does that take away? Yes, but there will always be a compromise. For us, it’s accessibility and the fact that people know they can order from us on whatever platform they prefer or choose, ”said Gray.

While Jimmy says their prices may increase slightly and their logo may change, the authenticity will remain the same. The Binghamton Small Business Emergency Grants will distribute $ 113,000 among several businesses in the area later this year.

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