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96-year-old Mt. Healthy restaurant owner still works 12-hour days

MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio – The latest interest rate hike hits a nerve for restaurants in Ohio. Two-thirds of restaurateurs said they had taken on new debt since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the Ohio Restaurant Association released this month. Still, a 96-year-old in business for decades is optimistic.

Despite his need for waitressing help and rising food prices, Angelo Rallis is calm. A&A Restaurant does not charge more than $10 for any item. Most are also belly filled dishes. Rallis prepares, cooks and cleans everything by hand. He happily works 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

“What am I going to do?” he said. “Stay in a chair at home? No, I’m not that guy. I like work.”

He believes that hard work solves problems, economic or not.

“He’ll sit on his stool during his break and say after two whole minutes, three minutes tops: oops (it’s) time to get back to work,” said Tracie Phalz, one of the restaurant’s two waitresses.

Rallis postponed retirement decades ago to maintain his business and himself.

“I’m going to retire at 100,” Rallis said. “Maybe. Maybe I’ll continue.”

He left Greece at 13. Then Rallis worked in his uncle’s restaurant in Cincinnati and learned values ​​that still pay off.

“His work ethic is amazing,” Phalz said. “I think that’s what people can learn is that it doesn’t matter how old you are.”

Despite the recession, crippling bills, and even the death of his wife and business partner, Rallis perseveres. Behind the 54-year-old cash register on its counter, customers and staff see impressive dedication.

“I asked him why he gives such big portions, why his prices are so reasonable,” Phalz said. “He told me that he doesn’t want anyone going back to his restaurant hungry and that he doesn’t pay dearly for the food he gets.”

Rallis recovers any slack in business operations. Her doctors told her the job was good for her health, Rallis said. So whatever happens next, he looks ready to serve.

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