In this time of uncertainty, and with Governor Holcomb’s recent “Stay-at-Home Order” it is vital that our community continue to support one another and the businesses that exist to support us. One industry that has been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is the restaurants in our area. This “Stay-at-Home Order” permits restaurants and bars to continue take-out and delivery services.
Two months ago, The Club Room began getting updates from the health department. Manager Gregg Coyle reported that as the landscape began to change and COVID-19 spread, they took steps such as adjusting distance between tables in the restaurant and cleaning and sanitizing more frequently. On March 16th when Governor Holcomb ordered restaurants and bars closed to dine in customers, The Club Room adjusted quickly and moved to carry out and delivery. Understanding the community they serve and the realization that some families may be struggling, they also made adjustments to their menu, adding lower priced menu items, healthy menu items and a family meal option. They are also offering carry out for some beer and alcohol choices.
The Club Room is most proud that during this time of uncertainty and because of the generosity of Chuck and Lisa Surack, they were able to obtain temporary positions for all of their staff at the Sweetwater Distribution Center for the time being.
Gregg Coyle had this to say about the Waynedale community as The Club Room prepares to celebrate their one-year anniversary, “you were there for us on day one, and we want to be here for you now.”
Just around the corner from the Club Room, The 07 Pub is donating 100% of sales and tips to their employees during this challenging time. The bar is open for carryout from 4 to 9 PM every day unless stated otherwise on social media. They have been able to maintain a remarkably steady business thanks to their loyal customer base. Customers who went in for carry out orders have left with tears in their eyes because they miss the camaraderie that their local pub provides. In turn, the staff of the 07 have a desire to take care of their community.
Owner Marcus Spillson, when faced with the challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, was concerned with caring for his employees who rely on their jobs at the 07 Pub to feed their families, pay their rent, their utilities, their mortgages and student loans.
Manager Anna VerPlanck acknowledged that while some employees are able to volunteer time to help, others may be unable to volunteer time because their children are home or because they are caring for older family members who may be at risk if exposed to the virus. However, the employee fund will be divided equally among all employees. “This is not a time for fairness, it is a time for selflessness,” explained VerPlanck.
Bravas on Fairfield Avenue also immediately went to carry out only. Fortunately, they have a robust take out business already so the pivot was fairly easy. They have shortened their hours and are open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 AM to 8 PM. They are offering a core menu of burgers, hot dogs and patatas in order to keep things streamlined.
Owner Bo Gonzalez reported that the community came out strong the first week. They hope to be able to maintain the current schedule; they are following all CDC guidelines and are confident that they can operate safely as a takeout restaurant.
To help their employees the Bravas Tip Jar, a Go Fund Me account, was set up so customers and supporters can “tip” the staff. All funds will be distributed evenly to their crew. Also, from 3 to 4 PM each day they offer a free meal to the entire staff and a 10% mandatory service fee on all orders helps employees.
Gonzalez stressed that the support of the local community has been essential to the survival of Bravas. “If you want to see your favorite restaurants survive this pandemic, support them.”
Employees and General Manager Ben Hall at The Deck have come up with a creative way to serve the community. They set up The Water Street Mercantile in a very short time to make available to the community the fresh produce, meat products and other items that Hall’s had in inventory or that they continue to receive via truck each day. After announcing on social media, The Merc has generated quite a bit of interest. It is a more enjoyable shopping experience than the grocery stores at this time and staff is continuing to streamline it each day.
As far as long term planning goes, it is difficult to say how long The Merc can be sustained. As everyone knows by now, the situation is very fluid. It is a situation not unique to just locally owned restaurants. As Hall stated, “everyone who has a great deal invested in building, equipment, inventory, payroll and on down the line has seen their revenues evaporate with almost no warning and is now faced with very difficult decisions on how to make it through.”
Ben Hall wants the public to know that they are very grateful for the remarkable support that they have received thus far from the community at all of their locations. “The best part, though is seeing how much support our customers have shown to our service staff that relies on tips as the primary source of their income.”
Restaurants and bars are important contributors to our city. They are places where people gather to celebrate good times and to commiserate in bad. They are part of the landscape of their communities. We should support them so they are there for us when this is over.