(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Residents who have put up Christmas lights this holiday season might get a little extra treat from a local restaurant.
New York Lunch on East Avenue is supplying gift certificates to several homes to thank them for their holiday lights. New York Lunch East Avenue is located at 922 East Ave. in Erie.
“I started doing it before COVID — I drive around at night looking for houses with Christmas lights so I can spread a little Christmas cheer,” said Constantine “Gus” Paliouras of New York Lunch on East Avenue. Gus’s parents, Stephen and Nina Paliouras, have owned New York Lunch on East Avenue for nearly 53 years. When Gus Paliouras finds a house that he likes, he leaves a card for them with a gift certificate. “The card says, ‘Thanks for brightening up our day at night.'”
Having the most elaborate Christmas light display might not necessarily earn a gift certificate and thank-you card from New York Lunch on East Avenue. Paliouras said it’s the thought that counts the most.
“It could be someone who has a little house and a few lights up — I don’t go for the biggest and best, I go for the one that put a lot of effort into it,” Paliouras said. “The house could be a Charlie Brown tree or a White House tree.”
Paliouras said he appreciates every holiday. “With my children, I just try to teach them to embrace every holiday,” he said. “There’s too much craziness in the world.”
The gift certificates are worth enough for people to come in and have a nice meal, Paliouras said. “The point of the gift certificates isn’t for them to come in and get one thing and then have to spend more money — we want to give them enough to eat, or else what’s the point of doing it?”
As of about 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 20, Paliouras had handed out six gift certificates to local decorated homes. He plans to continue “thanking” holiday decorators throughout the week. He expects to give out a total of 20 or 25 gift certificates this season.