While the COVID-19 virus continues to devastate communities and daily life across the world, no industry has been hit harder than those working in the service industry, which profits off of nearly constant human interaction and socialization.
Local Cheshire restaurants have been scrambling to stay open and profitable while residents begin to shutter inside their homes for the foreseeable future.
“We are struggling, just like everyone else,” said John Miller, the owner of local Cheshire hotspot, C.J. Sparrow’s. “We’ve had a really strong customer base over the years, but some places I know are not so lucky.”
Many businesses, like Miller’s, are learning quickly how to adapt and change in the face of the ever-evolving closures and mandates coming from Governor Ned Lamont.
“Just the other day, we started doing deliveries for the first time in our history,” Miller explained. “We also just started selling growlers for our beers, which we always had the ability to do, but we never had a reason for it until now.”
Miller’s business has also started providing large groups with family-style trays of food at a discounted price, in order to stay viable and continue to feed the local community.
Another Cheshire eatery, Michael’s Deli on Elm Street, is experiencing similar struggles, and because of the lack of work for many non-essential employees, the deli has seen a drastic decrease in customers.
“Most of my customers come from people who don’t necessarily live in town, but work here,” lamented Michael Gould Sr., the owner of the deli. “The Town Hall is closed, same with the salon down the street. Those people usually eat here and they’re not at work now.”
Gould and Miller have also changed their daily routines, adding constant cleaning and wiping-down of counter spaces between customers in order to prevent the spread of any germs.
While Gould says the St. Patrick’s Day holiday definitely helped his sales, the next day he estimates his customer base was down 60 percent from what it usually is.
“We’ve lost all of our sit-down business, obviously, but fortunately it’s just my wife and I who are working, and my son who is home from school now,” added Gould.
Miller’s workforce is unfortunately not so lucky. With governmental mandates asking owners to send 50 percent of their workforce home, Miller is experiencing firsthand what that may look like for his business.
“All the money that we’re making is going straight to the staff I have working right now, none of it is going to me,” he mentioned.
The staff at Bella’Gio Ristorante & Pizzeria on Waterbury Road is trying to stay positive in light of recent events.
“We try to come into work each day with a smile on our face and are thankful that, for now, we are still able to operate at some level, and are able to serve the community who are also suffering at this time,” said Frank Loga, the owner.
While the fate of many Cheshire restaurants and businesses is changing daily, Miller and Gould both agree that Cheshire residents need to stick together in these unprecedented times, and are always willing to extend a helping hand.
“Whatever people need, I am willing to do,” Gould remarks. “I will walk down to your business and hand-deliver food to you if you need it.”