This article is part of “Greek New York’s Finest,” our series dedicated to supporting Greek American-owned businesses in our home base of New York City that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This series of unique stories aims to bring these businesses more attention, publicity and support.
For more than four decades, Beasty Feast has served as a pet store staple for dog and cat lovers in a downtown Manhattan neighborhood.
Store locations have fluctuated in the 43 years since the first shop opened on Bleeker Street under the ownership of Dimitris Kelembelidis Sr. But the late Greek immigrant’s son Dimitri Jr. now runs the family business exactly where it all started — in the West Village.
Like many businesses, Kelembelidis adapted his own due to the COVID-19 pandemic; he has consolidated his two remaining stores into a single larger location, which operates on 327 West 14th St.
Opened in 2016, this store distinguishes itself — not only from past Beasty Feast locations, but also from fellow pet suppliers — by functioning as a “one-stop-shop.”
Aisles are packed with a wide and colorful variety of dog and cat necessities including food, toys and training products. A special room in the back area of the store provides space for dogs to receive full grooming services. And downstairs, owners can bring in their dogs for training sessions.
Beasty Feast never closed amid the pandemic due to its default status as an essential business, but Kelembelidis said training sessions remain paused, while grooming has resumed at half capacity.
“With my new location I was able to offer grooming and training downstairs,” the Beasty Feast owner told The Pappas Post. “The services bring in extra business. I learned that you have to have services if you want to survive.”
Photographs / Darden Livesay, The Pappas Post
But with grooming prohibited from March until July and training still suspended, Kelembelidis said another form of commerce has helped keep his store afloat amid the crisis.
“Online orders have picked up a lot,” he said. “We’ve had more than a 100% increase in online sales and curbside pickup is also popular.”
Beasty Feast has an e-commerce website for orders and deliveries and ships both within Manhattan (same-day shipping) and out-of-state (non-perishable items only).
Kelembelidis had launched the new site in January to add another dimension to his business, all the while not knowing that a pandemic would strike only two months later.
“I think I will get by for now with the help of my landlord,” he said. “I’m still waiting to hear from my landlord on what he wants to do with my back-rent because I haven’t been able to pay since the COVID started.”
Kelembelidis said the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) have been essential to his store — allowing him to continue serving loyal customers who have become friends over the years.
“When I decided to expand into the bigger store, I only moved a couple of streets away. This way I could keep the local traffic while also expanding my store and growing my services,” Kelembelidis said. “I love being able to see my same customers come in all the time and actually build a friendship with some of them too.”
Beasty Feast has reduced its hours to allow more time for cleaning and organization, but as an essential business it will remain open regardless.
Kelembelidis said he has one request for potential consumers.
“Stop buying online and support your local stores,” he said. “It’s always a struggle. We’re always fighting against the Internet for pricing.”
Video footage by Darden Livesay; video editing by Maria Wilson.
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