Local restaurants adjust to survive, but what's next?

One owner says customers will dictate changes post coronavirus

Brian Kelly
April 19, 2020 - 1:28 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-While some area restaurants have closed because of coronavirus, others are making due for now. The question is how many of them will be able to survive when the stay at home orders are lifted??

It's too soon to know, according to Feast Magazine Editor-in-Chief Heather Riske. Riske says while many restaurants have been able to stay afloat by adapting, they're going to need long-term solutions. "Obviously, takeout and delivery have been huge, but we've also seen some other things like meal kits, d-i-y cocktails and frozen pizzas and some things like that," she says. "Those are just kind of a band-aid for right now, I don't think those are going to help long-term."

Riske tells Total Information AM Weekend that restaurants are going to need federal help to survive, something many of them haven't gotten yet. The Small Business Administration reports only nine percent of the Paycheck Protection Plan loans went to accomodation and food services.

Another question is how customers will react when they're allowed to dine-in again. "It's going to be a slow trickle back in," says Riske. "I think we're going to see more spaced-out dining rooms and things like that." She also thinks many of the restaurants will keep the curbside and delivery services they've started during the shutdown. "Restaurants really had to figure out delivery and takeout kind of overnight. So, I think there have been some restaurants that have realized, 'Oh, I can do this' and know they don't need to go through the third-party services like Grubhub and those kinds of services and they can do it in house."

One of the companies looking forward to reopening its restaurants is the St. Louis Brewery, which makes Schafly Beer and operates two restaurants, with a third coming on line soon. CEO Fran Caradonna tells KMOX they will let their customers show them what changes need to be made so they feel safe. "There will be demonstrable ways you will see that we are doing that," she says. "We are still working out the details about how we'll do that but we want to show our customers that safety is our first concern.

"They'll show us what's improtant to them," she says. "We'll space them out more. We'll seat them differently. We'll have different kinds of precautionary protocols. That sort of thing."