Emir Guirguis and his wife Tina felt they had no choice. The Egyptian emigres/Elmwood Park residents were set to open their casual 1,500-square-foot restaurant Little Chef just as COVID-19 began to upend nearly every aspect of life, including dining out.
They knew keeping their four-table,16-seat spot closed would not spare them rent payments or other expenses. So they opened on March 15. Two days later, they closed their dining room to offer pick-up and delivery only.
"It's in God's hands," Guirguis said. "It's not what we had planned but we felt the community needed us. We are feeding the community."
To make ends meet, Guirguis works as a cargo supervisor at Newark International Airport, starting his shift in the late afternoon. The shop opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. The couple, who has two kids, share cooking duties.
Some of what's on the menu: grilled zucchini wrap, falafel avocado wrap, chickpea salad and chicken shawarma.