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“During the holidays, when you come here, you can barely walk inside the store,” said store manager Mike Kallas. Busloads of people from out of state often arrive to stock up on Greek goods, he added.

Non-Greek-American stores also cater to these shoppers. “Even the Korean-owned stores have signs with the Greek letters,” Mr. Svolakos said.

When Mr. Svolakos’s relatives visit him they make sure to visit Astoria’s grocery stores and stock up. “When they come here, they look like survivors from the desert.”

Younger, third- or fourth-generation Greek-Americans also frequent the stores, but their buying habits are different, said John Gatzonis, who has owned Akropolis Meat Market for 33 years.

The older generations “would work seven days a week, 14 hours a day to provide for their families,” he said. “They knew they couldn’t afford to eat out at restaurants.”

Thirty years ago, he often sold an entire lamb to a family. Now, many of his younger customers come to buy a single steak. Still, he appreciates that the younger generation remains interested in Greek cuisine and is generally more willing to tweak old recipes.

“The youth today are used to the Food Channel and Gourmet magazine,” Mr. Gatzonis said. “They come in here with recipes asking what would be good.”And the older generation remains. Recently, Mr. Gatzonis admired the care an elderly woman took selecting each of her four steaks from the huge assortment on display.

As with all New York neighborhoods, Astoria is evolving. Along a single block of 30th Avenue, the heart of Astoria, you now find many non-Greek ethnic restaurants: Go Wasabi, Thai Angel Kitchen, Aladdin Sweets and Delicatessen and Gandhi Haute Cuisine. Around the corner, on Steinway Street, there are hookah lounges with signs in Arabic.

The shrinking Greek-American presence is a sign of upward mobility. “Very wealthy Greeks don’t live here,” Mr. Svolakos said.

“They live in Manhattan, and they’re not familiar with life here.”

About two years ago, Mr. Svolakos moved to Bayside, a more affluent neighborhood of Queens. But every day he passes through Astoria and shops to stock his refrigerator.

Indeed, the foundations of Greek life in Astoria remain, including St. Demetrios School, which enrolls more than 600 students from preschool through 12th grade. The school, affiliated with St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral, also offers after-school Greek classes; some 200 youngsters attend daily.

This vibrant core of Greek life in Astoria is what drives some Greek-Americans to continue to move into the neighborhood, just as others are leaving.

Chris Chrysostomon, a 38-year-old restaurateur, first settled in Virginia after leaving his native Cyprus. But the tug of the homeland brought him to Astoria. In Virginia, “you miss home,” he said. “If you go somewhere else besides New York City, you feel alone.”

Mr. Chrysostomon said he is trying to raise his children in the Cypriot tradition, sending them to Greek schools. (His wife is Bulgarian, but she speaks fluent Greek.) Meanwhile, he spends long hours six days a week at his restaurant, Aliada.

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Tags: Orthodox Church of Greece