- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - While recognizing Greece’s financial hardships, some in Jackson’s Greek-American community have said that the media is partly to blame for the country’s economic problem.

Chris Grillis, the son of Greek immigrants, inherited his parent’s eatery Lamar Restaurant in downtown Jackson as well as some real estate on the Greek island of Patmos. Grillis said it is quite common for Greeks to bequeath property to their children living abroad in the U.S.

For most, though, it is a struggle to find the funds to maintain property overseas, so Grillis said that “most Greek kids” have no desire to keep their parent’s property.

Fortunately for Grillis, a renter has been leasing his inherited property for over 22 years. Grillis has kept that income in Greece, in part, so he can fund the biannual trips he makes to his parents’ homeland.

With Greece’s current economic climate, Grillis has even lowered the rent to ensure he does not lose the renter. As a businessman, he has been watchful of Greece’s economy and has worked to escape the effects of the country’s financial crisis.

He gave his renter careful instructions.

“With this economic situation, I’ve called over there and said, ‘Don’t put the money in the bank,’ ” said Grillis. “Because I need to pay taxes, and taxes are due this month.”

Instead, he told his renter to keep the money until the economic situation is resolved. While many have expressed doubt about a Greek recovery, Grillis is confident the economy will stabilize.

“It’ll take years, but it will be fixed,” said Grillis.

Grillis, who remains in frequent contact with his relatives on Patmos, said they are “laid back” about the economic situation, as their part of Greece (the Greek islands) mostly relies on tourism.

Grillis said he believes his relatives will be all right “as long as the tourism is still going,” something Grillis says has been hurt by the media.

“It’s going right now,” said Grillis, “but it’s not good as it should be because of all the news.”

The media, said Grillis, has wrongly depicted Greece as a madman’s land, with protests and riots spurred by the economic problem. As a result, the tourism industry has slumped.

Elite restaurant co-owner Chuck Odom, who returned last month from Greece after seeing family, agreed with Grillis.

“Civil disobedience is not part of Greek culture,” said Odom, who witnessed only peaceful protests concerning the economic crisis.

Odom described tourism as a “driving force” behind Greece’s economy and said the industry hasn’t been performing as well due to media portrayal of the economic crisis. Odom also says people have been misguided to believe that the Greek environment is unkind toward Americans. Last month during his trip, Odom said the Greeks were very welcoming.

Jackson VIP Travel agency owner Joanne Wilson said her clientele is not avoiding Greece. She has been quick to point out that American tourists can withdraw as much money as they want from ATMs in Greece, while Greeks are limited to a maximum withdrawal each day.

Odom said his Greek family members were concerned with the crisis but weren’t drastically affected since most of them were retired.

“At the end of the day, Greece is one of the oldest Christian countries,” said Odom, “They have strong faith that will get them through this.”


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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