Brothers sacrifice future dreams to save Louis' Family restaurant in Joliet from COVID shutdown

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Saturday, March 20, 2021
Brothers sacrifice future dreams to save Joliet restaurant from COVID shutdown
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The COVID pandemic very nearly shut down Louis' Family Restaurant in Joliet after 28 years.

JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- The COVID pandemic very nearly shut down Louis' Family Restaurant in Joliet after 28 years. But two brothers, sons of an immigrant, sacrificed their dreams to save the business with grit, determination and sacrifice.

"My brother came. I came. We came to help my dad," said 25-year-old Michael Polimenakos.

Michael Polimenakos wanted to become a doctor.

"Went to Wheaton College, graduated, I was studying for the MCAT. And when the pandemic hit, my dad said I need help with the restaurant," he said.

Michael's brother Nick also had no plans to go into the family business.

"I originally wanted to be an engineer. I loved math and science. I love the numbers," the 23-year old said.

But those dreams were deferred and a new focus on family took hold.

"After 28 years of a sit down restaurant, it does take a lot of work to completely shift to a drive through," Nick explained.

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The two had to change everything over from an all-indoor dining restaurant to all-online orders with a drive-up pickup.

They had to get on GrubHub, Uber Eats and DoorDash. They got a mascot, too; their golden retriever Zeus.

"We really put the restaurant online for the first time. We created a Facebook page, we created a website," Nick said.

Now, business bustles at midday, and the fast-footed brothers run out orders on the double.

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"We run to the cars. We don't take it like lightly," Michael said.

The pair made it a point to keep indoor dining closed, even after capacity limits were allowed, to protect their parents.

"It was not worth it to us for our parents to get sick and we could lose them," said Michael.

And now, with business thriving, the two have a new outlook on the future of the family.

"Everybody's telling us, hey you're probably not going to make it. And instead we really turned it around," Nick said.

"I love coming here every day. 'Cause I see my brother and I know this is for my brother, for my family. What else would I want to do than this?" Michael said.

"Nobody can do the job they do. Nobody. If the restaurant succeeds, it's because of them," said their 72-year-father Elias Polimenakos, who started the restaurants nearly 30 years ago.