HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Closed and not coming back. That’s the fear many bars and restaurants across the state have, whose very survival is in jeopardy because of COVID-19.
In a matter of weeks, anguished restaurant owners have had to lay off their employees, who have had to cope with the financial rug pulled out from under them.
Across the state, the folks who give us food and drink now hunger and thirst for a return to normal.
Fine dining to go?
Survival is very much on the menu at Harrisburg’s Mangia Qui. That means free delivery and curbside pick up.
“We call you when we are outside your home and we will leave it on the doorstep. Curbside pickup, same thing. You call when outside, we glove up and bring it out to your car,” owner Staci Basore said.
Bars, restaurants, and taverns have been served an awful dish called COVID-19 that is not only killing people, but also business.
“I’m hearing maybe a month they can survive like that. But with no revenue, after that it’s gonna be a true struggle and possible disaster for them,” says Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.
Moran is sending a letter of encouragement to his 500 members saying federal and state help will soon be on the way.
“That’s our message. ‘Hang in there, keep doing what you can and we’ll get through it together,’” Moran said.
“It’s very sad. It’s very disheartening,” Basore said. “About 90% of our staff are temporarily laid off and that’s to maintain a tight circle and that is to maintain our safety and that of our guests.”
Experts say restaurant fare is, by and large, safe. The virus is not foodborne; take out is fine.
It is what’s happening to the industry that’s tough to swallow.
“There are several thousands of restaurants that won’t be able to weather this storm,” Basore said.
“Go out. Order a takeout meal, enjoy it at home with your family and support your neighbors who are running these businesses,” Moran urged.
Mangia Qui has also gotten creative, doing online cooking and cocktail-making demonstrations on Facebook as a way to engage with customers.
Basore says folks have been generous and any tips will go to a fund for laid-off employees.
The situation has gotten more dire as the governor pushed his stay-in-home order by another month while schools and ‘non-life-sustaining businesses’ remain in limbo.
If you have a favorite restaurant that’s still serving, I’m sure they’d love to see you.