With public health sanctions and an extended stay-at-home order, local restaurants are experiencing a major decrease in revenue and almost all have resorted to having a very limited staff on hand.
Chris Stephenson, co-founder of Oxford Burger Company, said that his restaurant is currently bringing in only 40% of the business it usually does.
“I don’t like saying that because I know there’s some restaurants that are doing zero,” Stephenson said.
At the start of the pandemic and local closures, Stephenson said that workers were following careful social distancing procedures and have now increased their amount of caution when dealing with curbside pickups.
“Now…we just have a Grove tent outside the restaurant and a table, and we just put the food outside with the name on it,” Stephenson said. “You come up, (and) you’ll notice that there’s food there, and you look for your name…(We’re) just cutting down on the contact.”
Stephenson said that while he has had to start operating with a limited staff since the start of the pandemic, he is trying different ways to keep the staff he does have working.
“We’ve had to cut out some. We’re cutting down to the core people because the other part-timers are either high school students, or they’ve gone home because they’re college students,” Stephenson said. “We’ve taken on some projects inside the restaurant like painting the tables again, redoing the floor and doing what I can to keep some of them busy as well.”
At Moe’s Original BBQ, owner and operator John Allgood said that they have furloughed some of their staff and are doing 25% of the business that they normally do.
“We lost 20-30 people, between the bartenders and then people we don’t really have shifts for anymore,” Allgood said. “That kind of sucks.”
Allgood also said that the number of staff started decreasing around spring break, initially coming down to seniority, and those who had travelled could not immediately come back to work.
“(To) the staff that had left town for spring break,” Allgood said, “I told them when they got back, they had to wait 14 days before I could let them come back to work. Then over that period of time, we realized that we weren’t going to have the shifts. So I told them that … they would need to get a worker’s (compensation).”
Allgood said he is optimistic, but he has not looked too far ahead.
“Every day it changes a little bit, so I’m really just kind of taking it day by day, week by week,” Allgood said. “ (I’m) just optimistic that, you know, sooner or later, I’ll be back to business as usual.”
April Jacobs, a general manager at Bouré, said that there are very few people working the restaurant currently, and some of their workers have filed for unemployment. She said they are working on a way to pay their workers again.
“We’re now trying to get our employees paid and back on staff, so when we do open, we will still have our full staff,” Jacobs said.
Until then, Jacobs said that the restaurant has started doing a lot of promotional content on social media and looks forward to opening again — even if it means taking social distancing precautions inside of Bouré.
“I’m just … hopeful that everything calms down, we’ll be able to reopen at some point,” Jacobs said. “If that means social distancing inside, like (using) every other table. Just any type of business back into the restaurant would be amazing.”