Concord landmark Makris Lobster and Steak House is back open after a rough ride

  • Jimmy Makris and his daughter, Kristin Merrill at the entrance of Makris Lobster and Steakhouse on Route 106 on Monday, May 10, 2021. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday partly because it is difficult to find help. Merrill came in to the books and Makris was running errands. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jimmy Makris and his daughter, Kristin Merrill at the Makris Lobster and Steakhouse on Route 106 on Monday, May 10, 2021. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday partly because it is difficult to find help. Merrill came in to the books and Makris was running errands. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Makris Lobster and Steakhouse on Route 106 on Monday, May 10, 2021. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday partly because it is difficult to find help. Merrill came in to the books and Makris was running errands. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jimmy Makris and his daughter Kristin Merrill at the entrance of Makris Lobster and Steakhouse. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jimmy Makris and his daughter, Kristin Merrill at the Makris Lobster and Steakhouse on Route 106 on Monday, May 10, 2021. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday partly because it is difficult to find help. Merrill came in to the books and Makris was running errands. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jimmy Makris and daughter Kristin Merrill at the Makris Lobster and Steakhouse on Route 106 on Monday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday partly because it is difficult to find help. Merrill came in to do the books and Makris was running errands. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor columnist
Published: 5/10/2021 3:29:15 PM

Jimmy Makris says he never knew how much customers liked his fried clams.

“We’d have 15 people at the bar,” Makris said by phone Monday, “and at least four or five would have the fried clams.”

A COVID shutdown does that to business owners, in this case the owner of Makris Lobster and Steakhouse. His brother’s death, restaurant closings, staff layoffs, even a period of time when law enforcement had investigated his business for complaints of pandemic violations, all opened his eyes wider, allowing him to step back and appreciate loyalty after two years of life-altering stuff.

Last weekend, in fact, with the restaurant now closed on Sundays until more staff is hired, Mother’s Day was celebrated Friday and Saturday. Makris said the place was full.

“It’s been busy here so far,” Makris said. “Since we opened, people are coming up to me, maybe 20 a day, and saying thank you for opening. They said they went to other places for seafood and clams and they said it was not like here, and that makes you feel good.”

Things haven’t been good for Makris for a while. The two-year anniversary of his brother’s sudden death is approaching. Greg was Jimmy’s everything – brother, business partner, friend. He died suddenly in June of 2019. He felt discomfort in legs late at night and went downstairs to watch TV. That’s where he died.

Jimmy thought his brother had suffered a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed. They’d been restaurant co-owners for 40 years, dating back to the old Talk of the Town on Main Street.

In August of 2019, Jimmy, concerned about his own health, went to the doctor for a checkup. He was well aware that his family history included aneurysms. Maybe that’s what killed Greg.

Sure enough, Makris had one, but it was small, manageable.

“They told me to come back in a year and they would check it out,” Makris said. “I went back and it had grown. They recommended I get the operation, and they acted like they wanted to do it right away. I told them I had to go home and think about it.”

So he went home to think about it. By then, COVID had spread around the world, causing all kinds of grief and headaches for business people like Makris. All along, he was critical of the state and federal government for not formulating a central, clear plan and relaying the information quickly and efficiently.

“It bothers me that they do not tell you what’s going on,” Makris said. “The signals were confusing, and they told you to look on the internet to find it. But if you owe money, you’ll get a certified letter telling you that.”

Meanwhile, Makris told his doctor that he’d have the aneurysm removed, but he wanted the surgery before the 2020 end of year holidays. The procedure took seven hours and left Makris in more pain than he had ever imagined. Sneezes hurt beyond belief. He pressed a pillow against his chest to stabilize it, keep it still. Also, he couldn’t ride in the front seat of a car. Not with an airbag pointed directly at his wound.

“My ass got kicked,” Makris said. “I thought it would be easier. I’d walk at Hampton Beach and in 10 minutes I could not breathe. I was dizzy, I could not walk.”

The cold air bothered his lungs. The cold air, in fact, bothered him. He closed his restaurant completely after a period of offering take-out orders and some outdoor dining. He went to his place in Daytona Beach last January, leaving everything behind. 

Except for Greg. The brothers had bought the Florida home together, walking distance from the beach. Jimmy said he was reminded of Greg at every turn.

“He loved that place,” Makris said. “He was ready to retire and go there. He planted a lemon tree out back and it had died and I took it out. I’ll put another one in the back to remember how much he loved it there.”

He returned from Florida and opened last week. He said he’s lucky if he can work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Once, ten hours-plus was the norm. He said the dining room is 75 percent open and will return to normal in June. He said 90 percent of his staff returned, and he relished in the loyalty he received from employees and customers.

The fried clams are back, too.

“I feel like we’re entrenched into the mind of Concord,” Makris said. “That’s amazing. It was like the old days (on Mother’s Day Weekend). We had a waiting line, which we have not had forever.”




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