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Restaurants during COVID

It's truly no secret that COVID has affected many businesses and livelihoods. One industry that really stands out would be the food industry. I've sat down and had the privilege to interview a few managers or owners and see what they have been going through during these difficult times. It's really inspiring and eye opening to see just how creative some of them are and what they have been able to come up with!





Marlboro Diner - Marlboro, NJ

1. How has COVID affected business?


Our business when Covid first began went down 85%. It was such a drastic change, with the help of our community now and all the support we were able to pick  up but we are still just trying to keep afloat. 


2. What has been keeping you going during these times?


What has been keeping me going is the strength of my family and the support of our staff. I could have easily closed our doors for a few weeks trying to figure out another option or game plan but I knew that doing that would leave a ton of our employees jobless. My main goal and priority was to be able to allow our staff to be able to put food on their family's tables. I honestly could not have done  it without my family's constant support. I am so blessed with a work ethic like theirs to keep moving forward and constantly work on ideas to keep the business running. 


3. What kinds of creative ideas have you come up with to keep the business afloat? 

As soon as we did the switch from dining in to curbside pick up, I totally began to brainstorm on ways to reinvent our Diner Brand. I take such pride in creating a different menu that  incorporates classic diner favorites with a modern twist. So, I created a new logo, I focused on social media because that was the only way to communicate with our customers and I created family platters. So, my theory is simple when coming up with new menu items or specials and that's -Nothing brings families closer together  than a good meal. So I  did just that, i created family style platters at affordable prices and marketed them to our Marlboro Community as well as the neighboring towns. Doing this allowed families to essentially have their favorite delicious meals from our kitchen and place it onto their kitchen tables to sit and enjoy with their families. I also strongly believe that what you give is what you get, anything you put out into the universe whether good energy, bad energy, your kindness etc. you will receive back tenfold. So as soon as we were forced to do take out, I paused thinking from a business standpoint and immediately began thinking like a human being. I reached out to all elderly communities, our police department, our fire department, first aid, hospitals etc. I donated from our kitchen to theirs to show our community that we were in fact THERE for them I reached out to elderly communities to ask them to spread the word that we were doing take out and I personally delivered their meals if some were afraid to come out. I then decided to start up a Donation Project - our Diners to FrontLines, where people called in and donated and we donated to the hospital of their choice or any other frontline workers. We then came up with Carhop, it took off.  we were able to get so much recognition for it. This gave us the opportunity to serve people in their cars, which was a great way to keep in touch with our customers. We then began our outdoor dining phase, where we decorated a beautiful tent into a rustic green house feel and on the outside of the tent we set up a picnic patio where we had picnic tables with umbrellas. Every Stage, and struggle that we encountered we took it on and figured it out creatively. I truthfully could not have done this without our staff. They have really shown their loyalty and dedication. 


4. What are your thoughts on indoor dining?

My thoughts on indoor dining is mixed. I am nervous and i am super excited. I am nervous because it feels like forever since we were graced inside with our customers but  I am super excited to start right back up ! 


5. What precautions has your business been taking to stay safe?


We have installed all contactless soap dispensers as well as hand towels in the bathrooms. we have put up signs for blocking off booths to adhere to social distancing. We have a contactless hand sanitizer located outside of the entrance as well as hand sanitizer on all stations.  We have upped our cleaning even more than before and we have a company coming  in to spray the proper sanitizing chemicals to protect from Covid. The company is called filtra and are great!


6. Please describe your struggles and what customers can do for you to support during these trying times! 


What our customers can do is support us as much as they can whether take out or dining in. if you have a great experience please write a review, if you have any issues please contact us directly so we can rectify situations. We just ask our customers to be kind to one another and have patience. i am sure most business owners in this industry can agree that we are understaffed and  those working are extremely exhausted from the heat outdoors as well as working tirelessly to give the best service they can give. 





Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ - Flushing, NY

1. How has COVID affected business?

COVID has affected business in very severe and obvious ways. The biggest things to note are that we've downsized our staff from 25 total staff members to only scheduling 11 total staff members for the time period when we were only allowed to do takeout only. Another thing was that we were a consistent 4 million dollar sales restaurant, and decreased to about $1,000 in sales a day, which is a pace of $365,000 for the year, much less than 4 million.


2. What has been keeping you going during these times?


The hope and optimism that life will return back to normal. One thing that really keeps all of us going is the appreciation of customers who are ordering takeout from us. We don't take a single thing in life for granted anymore.


3. What kinds of creative ideas have you come up with to keep the business afloat? 


We do outdoor dining at the moment. It's different for our restaurant because one of the big things about Gyu Kaku is the experience. Customers grill the meats for themselves indoors. However, were grilling the meats for them inside right now and bringing everything outside already cooked.


4. What are your thoughts on indoor dining?


I thought it made no sense that gyms in NYC opened before indoor dining did. I've been indoor dining before at 50% capacity and it felt safe but I just think it made no sense for gyms in NY to be open before indoor dining. Restaurants right outside the border of the 5 boroughs had indoor dining as well, and everyone from NYC would drive there to eat.


5. What precautions has your business been taking to stay safe?


GLOVES, MASKS, ALWAYS SANITIZING, PLASTIC CUPS, ONLY 8 TABLES OUTSIDE


6. Please describe your struggles and what customers can do for you to support during these trying times! 


The biggest struggle is not being able to give the staff the hours they are used to getting. Many employees were used to 40 hours a week, and can only get 20 hours a week maximum at the moment because everyone needs their hours divided. What customers do is be safe, consider celebrating their birthdays with us when indoor dining opens again since we will have a very spaced out seating environment inside, and be even more safe so life can return to normal and 100% dining capacity :)



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