Restaurants Take a Hit During the Pandemic
Restaurants have been some of the hardest hit businesses by the current pandemic. Though different states managed the restaurant industry in different ways, eateries everywhere have felt pinched by the financial hardships that stemmed from closures and restrictions on dining. According to ABC News, almost 16,000 restaurants across the country have closed, and 60% of restaurants that closed temporarily will ultimately shut their doors for good.
Restaurants serve as the backbone of so many communities, often acting as a unifying space in the localities. In small-town communities like Edgemont, people often have personal ties to restaurants, whether it be a relationship with the management or a comfort food that’s been served since childhood. Because of this, restaurant closures can have profound effects on patrons who often feel a sense of loyalty to the business.
Luckily, many of our favorite restaurants here in Edgemont seem to be here to stay. I talked to four local favorites about how the pandemic affected their businesses.
At Giannoni's Deli, things have been looking up. Giannoni’s stayed open for takeout throughout the whole pandemic, and reopened 4 tables (50% capacity) for indoor dining at the start of Phase 3 in June. Because Giannoni's is primarily a takeout-heavy deli, their business was not greatly affected by the pandemic. In fact, Scott, the manager, thinks that this gave them an advantage, since they were one of the only places still open for takeout at the very beginning of the pandemic. Business this past summer ended up being pretty average for them; kids who usually go to camp were home, and a lot of parents who usually work in the city stayed local, which helped improve summer revenue. Scott is hopeful that in the coming months, Giannoni’s loyal patrons will continue supporting the deli.
Parkway Cafe reported a slightly different experience. Parkway was closed for the first two months of the pandemic, but reopened for takeout soon after. They reopened for indoor dining in June during Phase 3. Because there is such limited seating in the restaurant, outdoor seating substantially expanded their capacity. The tents in the middle of Scarsdale Village, which were organized by the Scarsdale Business Alliance, also helped the cafe. Not surprisingly, business over the summer was expectedly down, despite an increase in takeout orders. The manager I spoke to thinks much of this decline can be attributed to a general fear of going out during the pandemic. Looking forward towards winter, the manager predicts an overall downward trend in business due to less outdoor seating and limited capacity indoors. On the positive side, he predicted takeout orders to increase even more.
Similarly to Giannoni’s, Bango Bowls also hinges on its takeout business. Bango Bowls closed for the first two weeks of the pandemic, but remained open for the rest. The manager I spoke to expressed that staying open, even for takeout, was helpful in staying relevant within the community. Even before the pandemic, Bango Bowls’s orders were 90% takeout, so the pandemic didn’t take too much of a toll on the business. In comparison to past summers, this summer was a relatively strong one, again probably due to the influx of takeout orders. However, Bango Bowls is a chain, and some of their locations in malls suffered this summer. The manager thinks that business will drop off during winter, as it usually does, considering Bango Bowls is a primarily seasonal restaurant. He predicts that the whole industry will continue to be hit hard as outdoor dining will probably become less accessible as the weather turns colder.
Via Forno had a similar experience to Parkway, in that they are both primarily sit-down restaurants. Via Forno was closed for the first few months of the pandemic, after which they opened for patio seating, and finally opened for indoor dining at 50% capacity when given the green light from Governor Cuomo. Not surprisingly, business dipped over the summer. Though their patio seating proved an asset to them, during winter they will likely have to close it. As a result, the restaurant will concentrate heavily growing the takeout part of business.
While we can look at the steps restaurants are taking to respond to the pandemic, it’s also interesting to see how patrons are responding. When I talked to each restaurant about customers’ willingness to wear masks, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that none of the restaurants have had major issues. All of them reported minor incidents. Giannoni’s reported that there have been a few arguments between customers waiting in line about maintaining social distancing, but nothing serious resulted from any of these arguments.
If it wasn’t clear before the pandemic, shopping and eating locally are now more important than ever. Restaurants have already reported seeing a strong community effort to keep them afloat. Along with our community’s willingness to wear masks, this spirit demonstrates our collective strength. As we head into colder months, this sense of community will be all the more important for the restaurants in town.