Area restaurants are struggling to get by with increasing restrictions on food service, while grateful to loyal customers whose patronage has kept them afloat during this challenging time.
“It’s really important to patronize all the little local places; some of us aren’t going to make it through this,” said Doug Kuzoian, owner of Steve’s Place in Newington, an Italian restaurant and deli that’s been in business over 50 years.
“Steve was my dad,” Kuzoian said. “He opened this place in 1969 and I took it over in 1981.”
Back then there was no such thing as online ordering and delivery services like Grubhub and DoorDash. Nowadays, while “going out to eat” is prohibited by the COVID-19 pandemic, these mobile platforms are key to business.
Another boon for business have been meal deals. At Capitol Lunch in New Britain, the Ververis family is offering a $20 “Cappy Kit” – including 12 uncooked hot dogs, the same amount of buns and a pint of the eatery’s famous meat sauce.
“You can take it home and enjoy it with your family,” Gus Ververis explained. “People seem to be interested.”
The 91-year-old family-owned lunch stop is currently operating on reduced hours, with one-third of its usual staff.
“I know we have to do it like this at least another month,” Ververis said. “God willing we all stay healthy as well.”
In Bristol, Steve Guay, who co-owns West End Pizza at 15 Park St. with Bob Lambis, said he has switched to curbside delivery but has been able to maintain regular business hours.
“We’re doing OK, not great – people are a little scared to go out,” Guay said. “But we’re still making pizzas. We really appreciate the business of our customers and we’re here for you.”
Plainville’s West Main Pizza, at 97 E. Main St., has been owned by Agnes and Pete Kaleodis for 50 years and Pete Kaleodis said the business has been through crisis situations before. They are doing pickup and delivery during this time and are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 7 days a week.
“We are staying open to help the people, but we are losing some business,” he said. “People that come to us are very happy and appreciative that we’re open. Also, we didn’t fire anybody; we’ve kept the same employees. I want to help the community as much as I can by making sure that they are at least happy and enjoy a hot meal and good pizza. We’re trying to do the best that we can.”
Nancy Brummett, of Southington’s “The Groggy Frogg” pub at 129 Center St., said they are “squeaking by.”
“We’re doing curbside delivery,” she said. “We’re still doing our entire menu and we’re trying to have a different special every day. A lot of our regulars are still coming to us for takeout. We can’t wait until we can re-open again and hire our employees back.”
Laura Conlon, wife of Chris Conlon who owns Smokin’ with Chris, a barbecue restaurant 59 W. Center St. in Southington, said their restaurant is doing curbside pickup and has started doing local delivery in Southington.
“The community has been very good to us and has continued to support us,” Conlon said. “We are still serving our whole menu but we have different hours and are serving family-style offerings packed and ready to go. They are a good value for the whole family.”
Joe DelGado, who along with his father Hector owns Flair Restaurant at 98 Main St., Southington, said they have also switched to curbside pickup and delivery. They are offering a lot of family specials too.
“We’ve been alright though we have way less staff – it’s basically me and my father and one or two people,” DelGado said. “Business isn’t like it was before this, but customers are still placing orders and every little bit helps. We appreciate the heck out of it.”
Flair Restaurant has donated food to Hartford HealthCare to show its support for medical professionals working during this coronavirus crisis.
“They are the real heroes and they are helping to save lives,” DelGado added. “They are putting their lives and those of their family at risk to fight this disease.”