Eat, sleep, quarantine, repeat: Main Street businesses deal with coronavirus

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Kayleen Aures/THE REVIEW
This year, for fear of spreading coronavirus, no one could be caught pinching another person’s skin, let alone even entering the businesses.

BY Associate News Editor

Year after year on St. Patrick’s Day, college students and locals have packed into Main Street’s bars and restaurants to celebrate the holiday, pinching each other if they forgot to wear green.

This year, for fear of spreading coronavirus, no one could be caught pinching another person’s skin, let alone even entering the businesses.

On Monday, March 12 at 8:00 p.m., Delaware Gov. John Carney’s emergency declaration went into effect, limiting Delaware restaurants, taverns and bars to take-out and delivery service only, leaving Main Street a near ghost town with people only jumping in and out of their cars to retrieve their food.

“These restrictions will hit Delaware’s restaurants and bars especially hard,” Carney said in a statement regarding these limitations. “Delawareans should continue to support these businesses, and their workers, by ordering take-out or delivery.”

Prior to this declaration, take-out accounted for about 2% of Home Grown Cafe’s sales, according to General Manager Matt McConnell. Although its regular guests are ordering take-out and leaving tips for employees that cannot work due to this change, McConnell said that this is a “catastrophic” hit on the local businesses.

He said that from now until the second week of June is usually the busiest time of year for the business.

“This is how we make our money to get through the rest of the year, the off-seasons,” McConnell said. “Even though business was down and greatly affected … we were doing very well considering the circumstances. [Business] fell flat on its face when the panic hit its crescendo on Sunday night into Monday.”

McConnell said that the limitation to take-out and delivery will probably last two weeks or even longer. He said that for the next week or two, take-out sales will be lower because people stocked up on groceries. Take-out will hopefully pick up after that, he added.

“[Take-out is] still not enough to subsidize the restaurant,” McConnell said. “We’re still in the red.”

He agreed that people still may be concerned to leave their houses just to get take-out. However, he said that Home Grown Cafe is working “double and triple time” to properly sanitize hands and surfaces. Caffé Gelato also wrote on Facebook that “every morning each of our Caffé Gelato staff members are evaluated and have their temperatures monitored.”

Although there is concern about the virus spreading through food, the FDA wrote on its website that there is “no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.”

Other businesses on Main Street are coping with this same situation.

The Barnes & Noble on Main Street is closed down at least until mid-April.

Taverna said in a statement that it “made the difficult decision to close [its] doors until further notice at all of [its] restaurants, as well as [its] corporate office.”

Snap Custom Pizza & Salads, Klondike Kate’s, Deer Park Tavern, Grotto Pizza, Caffé Gelato and Pachemama, among other food-service businesses on Main Street, are also offering only take-out and/or delivery. Pachemama is offering free delivery until March 29.

Snap Pizza is also offering a free kid’s pizza and drink to any student affected by the closure of K-12 schools.

“There’s a lot of underprivileged children who rely upon the school district for their [breakfast and lunch],” Robert Wasserman, co-founder of Snap, said. “We can play our part within the community.”

Snap is also navigating through this uncertainty and seeing how it must adjust its plan in light of the new restrictions on business.

“We’re like everybody else, we’re just walking through the dark,” Wasserman said. “Once we have a little more data to us, we can make a more educated guess. I don’t want to panic and close everything down. It’s just a slow wait-and-see kind of atmosphere.”

Additionally, Rita’s First Day of Spring, an event where all of Rita’s Water Ice locations give out free Italian ice, was postponed.

This virus affects all sides of business, leaving businesses in tough situations with uncertain futures.

“The ripple effect, we can’t even comprehend what’s going to happen,” Wasserman said. “We’re talking about every aspect of the business, from the supply to the industry of the business, we’re gonna see a lot of changes and a lot of shakeup.”

Check back frequently for more coronavirus coverage from The Review at http://udreview.com/category/coronavirus/.

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