By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Numerous area restaurants continue operating despite a prohibition on seating and bars operating due to coronavirus.
Here’s how some are doing.
At The Bullpen and Talk of the Town, co-owner Dave Krogmann said, “We just had a good weekend at both places, about on par with what we would normally do — of course, a totally different way of getting there, completely different. We did quite a bit of take outs, with beer, liquor and wine to go.” But he cautioned, “I don’t see how it can sustain. People are making the effort to go out, but how long can they keep it up? I wonder if there will be a substantial drop-off as people are out of work.”
The mood, he said, “is kind of subdued. You go in and there’s no one in the place, the tables are closed off, some of the lights are off. People are asking how we are doing. A lot of people that come in, we know them and their families.”
Mr. Krogmann said they’ve maintained a full kitchen staff of four at the Bullpen, but cut down to 4 from 10 bartenders. They’ve let go five of the six waiters at Talk of the Town. “We had to cut the dishwashers.”
He said, “Some of the staff and bartenders at the Bullpen volunteered to take a step back. “We have two younger bartenders, two girls with two or three kids. The others said, ‘Give them my shifts and just give a call if you need me.’”
They’re doing mostly pickups, rather than delivery. Talk of the Town was already a take-out operation, but he said Bullpen has adjusted to it. They’ve done well with a $25 wings, pizza and beer deal.
Mr. Krogmann said, “Most people call ahead with a credit card. We try to have the orders on the bar so they can just take it, get in and out as quick as possible.”
“The whole community has been awesome. Everyone is promoting each other. I got food from Radici the other day. I couldn’t even get in in regular times. It was delicious. I just worry about the places that just opened.”
At Poopie’s, (DiManno’s Lunch) on Lawrence Street, “Things are not bad, not bad,” says owner/griddlemaster Jerry DiManno.
“When they said restaurants could only do delivery or takeout, I told my two daughters here, I’m not doing that. It won’t work. Then I got home and started thinking. I’ll go out of my mind. I’m used to keep moving.” Two days later Poopie’s opened for takeout and delivery only.
They’re serving their usual breakfast and lunch menu. He says, “People order the same stuff they always do. I can look at a ticket and I know, ‘that’s John, isn’t it?’”
“We probably had, about half off what I usually do. Saturday was decent, about three-quarters of what I usually take in. It’s not awful, will help pay the bills….
“People have been real good, and a lot thank me for staying open.” He cautions, “I don’t know how long I could last at this level. I do feel sorry for all these restaurants trying to make it work.”
Instead of four employees, “now it’s only two on.” They also sell Villa bread, “at least 20 loaves every day last week.” It’s baked literally around the corner.
Most vendors continue to deliver — but a supplier stopped baking the kaiser rolls he uses for his hamburgers. “It’s a very popular item. I have some, but I’m going to have to stop and get that elsewhere.”
Adirondack Seafood is cutting back from two sites to just on. “We are going to consolidate,” Mike Willig says, closing at Glenwood Antiques in Queensbury and just running its original Hudson Falls seafood market and restaurant. “We’re double exposed and there’s no reason for it.”
They also cut hours, “front loading the business,” to just Thursday, Friday and Saturday, “trying to concentrate the business on the three days. We’ve already pared down the menu and offerings we have to more practical things, but almost everything is as normal. The fish market and restaurant are open, seating closed. We have a service window we want people to use, for minimal contact.
“You call in and we will prepare, or call from the parking lot when you get here, no handling of merchandise like bottles of soda, very up on cleaning all contact surfaces. The seafood we get, there’s not a lot of packaging, not a lot of contact surface so it’s all very sanitary.”
“We came up with a family meal plan, fish by the pound, chowder and french fries at a reduced price, to make it easier.”
“Seafood and fish are a grocery item, essential items, so we want to keep that available for the community. We are seeing people stocking up on fish, and freezing it.” Mr. Willig said the small-scale fishermen he works with are “coming in with nice fish. They are streamlining the catch to more essential ones. The fish are still out in the ocean.”
As for staffing, he has six to eight this time of year, “more like a dozen at peak.” Some who are health compromised are taking time off voluntarily. Some he says he has put to work elsewhere, on rental properties he owns that are currently empty, or doing cleaning jobs at the restaurant, “things that are hard to do when it’s busy.”
“We are taking it day by day,” says Mr. Willig. “We’re not shut down. Everybody’s got to eat. A positive attitude is really important.
“We have to take precautions but you do have to be careful of becoming fear-driven. There is a heartwarming feeling of people bonding together in this.
“It is sad to see. I am hoping for the best for everybody, and confident that we are doing the right thing.”
“This is new ground for all of us, a deeper thing than I ever dreamed. It will change the world.”
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