Popular Gyros restaurant closing for good, owner blames crime
The owner of a Milwaukee restaurant on the northwest side of the city says he's closing up shop because of the crime encroaching on his business and police, seemingly, unable to do anything about it.
"Hey! Give me a hug," Alex Stratakos said while a group of young children came running up to hug him at Spartan Gyros.
Lunch hour was bittersweet.
The word was just beginning to spread that Friday at 11 p.m. will be it.
After 7 years, his lease at 76th and Mill is up and crime has forced him to this point.
"I've gone through captains, sergeants, and lieutenants. Nobody shows up," Stratakos tells CBS 58's Michele McCormack. "That means nobody wants to help."
Stratakos says he doesn't understand why police can't increase speed enforcement given a recent road rage case that took out his front sign.
He also said he would like to see increased patrols after nearby shootings or robberies.
"Show a police presence for all of the businesses here."
In emails provided by Stratakos to CBS 58 News, Assistant Chief Jim Harpole explains that his responsiblity is to the entire city of Milwaukee and that he cannot personally work on the crime issues in a specific neighborhood.
In the June 19th email, he offered to meet with Stratakos in July.
"Three weeks? I needed it now. I'm a business man here to help. I'm asking for help. There was no help."
All this is a little hard for regular customers to digest.
Justine Buchanan is a teacher who likes to check in on her former students who now have a good job thanks to Stratakos.
Or they did until Friday.
The Milwaukee Police Department says it is addressing the concerns and that it's just a scheduling conflict that prevents a face to face meeting.
A spokesperson for the department offered this response to CBS 58 News.
"Assistant Chief Harpole has been working to set up with a meeting with Mr. Stratakos but their schedules have not been able to be coordinated yet (AC Harpole has even offered to meet with Stratakos in his off time). In the meantime, the Commander of District 4 and his officers are aware of the issues and have deployed a variety of resources to the area and are working to address Mr. Stratakos concerns."
Stratokos says there were also complications with his lease. Concerns about the property which had been addressed in the past with the help of the city.
But he says the tipping point was when crime in the area just got too close to him.
"I don't want to leave Milwaukee," he said. "I was forced to leave Milwaukee."