WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Almost two years ago, Ivan Raynov was in the same position as George Martin.
Raynov was opening his Euro Bistro on Public Square, offering freshly prepared gyros, soups, pizza and baklava.
The 26-year-old Bulgarian native on Wednesday said he‚??s closing his restaurant at the end of the year, but not for lack of trying.
‚??I like it here, but you live and learn,‚?Ě Raynov said. ‚??I‚??m going to try something else.‚?Ě
Raynov set up shop in Wilkes-Barre after closing his Euro Bakery in the Mall at Steamtown three years ago.
‚??I‚??m going to miss this place,‚?Ě he said.
He acknowledged he learned the hard way that it‚??s tough to get by without much advertising and to change people‚??s eating habits.
‚??I thought the people wanted healthier food,‚?Ě Raynov said.
He said the meals he and his father, Emil, make are from scratch with fresh ingredients and reasonably priced. Nearly all of his sales are to repeat customers, he said.
A few blocks away on West Northampton Street near the Greater Wilkes-Barre YMCA, Martin was getting his feet under him in his second week as general manager of Ballina Restaurant.
Martin, 35, originally from Dunmore, filled a vacant space with the help of a friend who‚??s been cooking for a decade.
‚??This was available,‚?Ě Martin said as the lunch hour approached.
He‚??s already trying to get people‚??s attention with direct mail campaign of the restaurant‚??s menu. Anyone who brings it back and orders receives a 10 percent discount on their bill.
The restaurant‚??s fare earned the praise of Harold Davenport of Harford, who had a roast pork sandwich and fresh-cut French fries.
‚??The food will make it succeed,‚?Ě Davenport said.
Ballina serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Thursday and Friday.
Still under wraps is the Letts Eat, Flavors of India restaurant up the street from Ballina. The restaurant occupies the former Blue Chip Gourmet spot on the corner of East Northampton and South Main streets.