The novel coronavirus and the state-mandated business closures imposed in its wake have left many small business owners trapped in a cloud of fear and uncertainty.
“This has been a particularly gnarly transition as we really had no previous model in place for significant take-out business,” says Ben Dressel, owner of Dressel’s Public House in the Central West End.
“When you have a busy walk-in restaurant, take-out can put a strain on your already taxed kitchen line. Now the problem is the opposite,” says Dressel. “We’ve had to adapt our menu and processes for take-out only, so we’ve tried to be thoughtful on what we’re selling and how it’s packaged to stay fresh.”
According to Dressell, their best-seller has been the Fish and Chips. “Since the shutdown corresponded with Lent, we were able to keep a pretty sizable Friday night Fish Fry crowd,” says Dressel. “Our regulars and customers have been fantastic and very understanding and supportive through this process. We do our best to keep our curbside pick-up time between 15-30 minutes, depending on the day and time.”
With CWE restaurants and bars shifting to carryout-and-delivery only models, small business owners like Dressel have had to get creative in order to stay afloat. Over at Drunken Fish, president and CEO Munsok So acknowledges that it’s been a journey he had never prepared for.
“To come in one day and have everything you know flipped completely upside down,” says So. “We’ve been chugging away trying to stay afloat and to keep our teams in place. We are trying to stay positive and work diligently 7 days a week.”
Drunken Fish is currently offering delivery on platforms like Postmates, UberEats, Doordash, and Grubhub. (FYI- you can get free delivery on orders over $50). You can also order food directly on their website for curbside pick-up and deliveries. And pretty soon, they plan to roll out their own DYI Korean BBQ and sushi-making kits.
While both business owners acknowledge that the last few weeks have been challenging, they continue to forge ahead for their employees and the community.
“We’re doing our best to make our food travel and to give some comfort to folks who enjoy what we do,” says Dressel. “We are the heart and soul of the communities we serve on a number of levels. Dressel’s has always been a “public house” and we hope to get through this to continue that mission.”
“My heart goes out to each and every person who places an order,” says So. “It helps to maintain our business and to keep the current number of people employed.”