Sense of family a strength at Jonathan’s in NHP

Jonathan's Restaurant General Manager Frank Billera said that because its staff views itself as family there is very little turn over in staff compared to other restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan's Restaurant)

Jonathan’s Restaurant general manager Frank Billera said that unlike many restaurants the Garden City Park eatery has a relatively low turn over rate among its staff. 

“It does have that family atmosphere to it and we take that to the staff and we create a sense of family amongst the staff,” Billera said, “And that’s why we do really have a low turnover amongst staff for an industry that’s really high.”

Billera said that the restaurant on Jericho Turnpike just off of Herricks Road has servers and bartenders from when the restaurant originally opened.

He cited one employee who started off as a dishwasher in 1992 and worked his way up to busboy to a server and finally “where everyone wants to be” at the bar. 

The New Hyde Park American restaurant was started by Jonathan Maverikis in 1992 who now co-owns it with his son Dean and nephew Peter Kalamaras, Billera said. John still comes into the restaurant every day, Billera said.

“It really is a family-owned business,” Billera said. 

Dean Maverikis said that Billera joined the staff around the same that Billera joined as general manager. Maverikis said he came back to the restaurant around the same time as Billera in 2006 after working there as a teenager after spending time in California.

Billera said he was friends with John, Dean, and Peter because his father used to own the Cornerstone Pub and Restaurant in Mineola, which his father just recently sold. 

“I have a lot of people coming through the door here asking about [my father]. It’s a neighborhood thing. It’s cool,” Billera said. 

Consistency is what makes the restaurant a great place to eat at, Billera said. The restaurant offers an a la carte menu as well as price-fixed dinners and lunches championed by Billera.

Billera said that a strength of the restaurant is that it listens to meal suggestions from its customers.

“Our menu is pretty large. We fine-tune it to what our customers look and ask for,” Billera said.

Billera said that staff will personally deliver food to long time customers who may be too old to travel now.

He said the restaurant has “prime” steaks and “top grade” seafood and said that there are some items he will not order at other restaurants because it pales in comparison to what Jonathan’s offers.

Jonathan’s even makes its own ground beef in house from its prime sirloin. 

“A lot of places don’t take the effort out to make their own burgers and that’s what sets our’s apart,” Billera said. 

Billera said he loves and cares about his work, saying that even by the end of the night he is planning for the next day.

“I’m working days ahead. By Friday, I’m working on Saturday and by Saturday, I’m working on Sunday,” BIllera said. 

He said that when he sees planning seats at catering events and planning reservations as a puzzle.

“It’s like puzzle pieces trying to figure it out,” Billera said.

Billera said that it is definitely harder for “mom and pop” restaurants to survive, saying now that people can now order food on their phone without even leaving the couch. The restaurant has combated this by allowing Uber Eats drivers to deliver its food to customers. He said that this may be necessary in the digital age. 

“In today’s day and age, it kind of is… There’s plenty of times even for myself that I don’t want to get up off the couch and you don’t even have to make a phone call you just have to make a couple of clicks,” he said

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Tom McCarthy

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