These are uncertain, unprecedented times for the community – and the economy. And in this age of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the restaurant industry has been forced to pivot, then pivot again, according to the city’s needs and the state’s orders. Rather than report on the latest status of eateries in town, we at “Appetite” thought it might be a better course to let the restaurant managers and owners speak for themselves. Below you’ll hear their thoughts about what’s happened, what’s to come and how the community can take part.
Jeni Britton Bauer, Founder, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams:
"It's been extremely challenging. The safety of our employees, customers, and communities is our top priority, and we've made the switch to only offering local delivery from our shops to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We're so grateful for the support we're continuing to receive from the community – every single order helps us to pay our team."
Ian McGrath & Teddy Kim, co-owners The People’s Drug, Chop Shop Taco, King’s Ransom and The Handover:
“It became clear basically overnight that our revenue was absolutely slammed to a halt. We’ve really concentrated on smaller, more one-of-a-kind places that emphasize personal connections, and before this we never placed much emphasis on takeout. We basically turned to our senior team members at each place and said, ‘If you are into it, you are free to run this as a mom and pop right now, and see what you can come up with. Just tell us what we can do to support you.’ What’s been amazing is to see what they’ve managed to come up with, through their talent, creativity, and ridiculously hard work. They’ve succeeded in making something that still serves the community, and they seem to be gaining the sort of traction that we hope will enable us to support the rest of our team and have a place to return to as things regain some normalcy down the road.”
Rob Krupicka, owner of Elizabeth’s Counter:
“Every day is like the first day of business. You don’t know what sales will be (they keep changing). You try new things every day (products, specials, food delivery services, etc.). You don’t know how much staff you will need or if they will show up. We want to give all we can to serve our customers and we keep trying. We are not ‘give up’ types of people. But this is hard. It’s very hard. On top of the pressure of an ever-changing market, we have to essentially renegotiate with our landlords, vendors, utilities and seek out federal assistance all at the same time. We are finding a way. I’m in awe of our staff, the community and our customers. They keep us going.”
Trae Lamond, owner of Chadwicks (via Instagram):
“To our Chadwicks community: it's because of you that our glass is feeling half full – your curbside pickup, delivery orders and gift card buys mean the world, and you're helping this small business stay in business. With your continued support, our entire team will be here for you for years to come. We can't wait to have you back here at Chadwicks, and until then we'll see you curbside or on your front porch. Don't give up the ship! #chadwickslovesyou”
Alex Taylor, Beverage Director at King’s Ransom / General Manager at The Handover:
“Times are challenging and unprecedented. With periods of uncertainty, our species tend to congregate together for support, discussion, escapism. This is the environment that we normally create and enjoy cultivating. However, this opportunity has been removed. Thus we scramble to find ways to help our neighbors and visitors cope. That is where the challenge exists. While we cannot be there physically for them, we can still be the facilitators of hospitality and keep up our spirits for them in the hope that the only thing infectious is our smile and demeanor.”
Hope Nelson is the author of “Classic Restaurants of Alexandria” and owns the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.