Kerry Krull, Owner
Aworldwide pandemic, oy vey! Who would have thought it would ever get to us all the way from China? I sure didn’t. One minute I was sitting in my restaurant, The New Deal, joining my friends for some Sunday brunch and discussing whether this was as serious as the news was making it sound, which brought up some very opposing conversation. And the very next day, the whole world came to a screeching halt!
Of course, the panic set in … having two local restaurants and not having a lot of answers, if any, for my employees. We all had to go into survival mode and figure out what to do next: Do we lay off half our staff? Keep everyone one day a week? Lay off some and keep others — and who? There was so much misinformation in the beginning about how they would be paid — work part-time and file for lost hours with unemployment, give them sick pay (which still comes out of the employer’s pocket) and so on. A few of my employees opted to go back to their hometowns to be with family, and a few did not want to be exposed at all and just ended up staying home, but I still had a lot of other people to worry about. The PPP COVID bank loans require that you lay no one off in order to qualify as a way to keep the economy going, unless they voluntarily quit. We are still waiting for the help we need, but I have to say Bank of America has made it a lot easier.
In the meantime we quickly rushed into action with what we had to work with, which was obviously takeout! We try to make it as easy as possible for our customers by having an easy online service for free delivery, as well as Postmates and GrubHub. We also do curbside service, which has proven to work really well for the immediate locals. That being said, it only accounts for about 20% of our normal business on a good day! Not enough to survive.
The community has been so gracious and grateful for us staying open, and they thank us on a regular basis. Since both Romancing the Bean and The New Deal make everything from scratch, I do feel it’s the next best thing to cooking your own meals. Our employees have been great; they’ve been used to hustling and bustling, but now there is a lot of downtime on their shifts, and they utilize the time by organizing, deep-cleaning and keeping up on inventory. And I have had a little extra time to re-evaluate both my restaurants to come up with new ideas and menu items to launch when we reopen to the public.
For me, the biggest challenge right now is “Who do I pay first?” until I get some financial aid. If I don’t pay the farmer who gives us our lettuce, we don’t get our lettuce! If I don’t pay our fish guy, we don’t get fish. Believe me, they all want to get paid, and rightfully so, but they don’t realize that you have 20 other vendors calling you for the same thing. The first payments go to employees, and after that it’s a matter of keeping the priority vendors happy enough to keep giving you product, because without that we don’t have a restaurant! This is my daily anxiety!
Do I think we will get through it? Yes, I absolutely do, and my hope is to have taken advantage of this downtime to become a better and stronger entity for our wonderful community and neighbors to enjoy more than ever, and for all my fellow small businesses over here to come back stronger than ever as well. I see some of my neighbors getting very creative on Instagram, and I think, “Aww, good for them.”
What the community can do is really just to keep supporting the small businesses and keep ordering as much as they are able. Of course, money is tight for everyone, so understandably, there is only so much you can do. But with any luck, we will all still be standing together at the end of this.
Return to The State of the Village.