LI importers of Greek goods face uncertainty

Long Island companies that import foods and goods from Greece are facing an uncertain future amid the financial crisis there.

Greece officials say the government is working to reach a deal with creditors after the nation's citizens voted down a proposal for more austerity measures in exchange for rescue money. European Union officials say the "no" vote creates a gap between Greece and the rest of the eurozone.

Here on Long Island, business owners who rely on goods from Greece are anxiously watching the situation unfold. Cosmos Symeonidis, who owns a Greek specialty store in Deer Park, says he's unsure how much longer he'll have Greek foods on his shelves.

"Right now we are still waiting to see, because we can't get physical product," he says. "Our last shipment was a couple of weeks ago."

Symeonidis' company, Optima Foods, imports products from Greece and then sells them to restaurants and retailers across Long Island and New York City. He says the situation in Greece is affecting business in a large way. "We have some supply in our warehouse, but we don't know how long that's going to keep up to supply the restaurants and retail locations."

Importers say there are fears that shortages from Greece may trigger price spikes in items like Greek olives, feta cheese and filo dough.

The situation is not just affecting imports. Nick Stamatakis, of the Sponge Company, exports sponges to Greece. He says he has boxes that were ready to be shipped two weeks ago, but because of the uncertainty there, the boxes have remained in his warehouse. "We can't take the risk because in the end, we don't know if we're going to be paid," Stamatakis says.

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