While Jayson Pettit’s phone was ringing off the hook with take-out orders at J’s Pub and Grill for its Friday Night fish fry, sales were lower than usual the first weekend Gov. Tony Evers issued a state mandate to close all restaurants to dine-in and only allow for take-out in an effort to slow the speed of COVID-19.
While he didn’t have numbers, he believed sales were down 25% each day compared to last year since the public health order was issued March 17. In addition, the health order bans gatherings of 10 or more people.
Pettit said in a March 22 interview, the restaurant has been able to keep all its staff so far and the community support has been phenomenal.
“And from what I hear it’s not just us it’s all restaurants and local businesses that are being supported by the local community,” he said.
While Pettit said he’s grateful for the support, he’s worried how long it will continue if the mandates keep getting stricter as the pandemic escalates and if people still keep up their support.
Sissy’s Café Owner Tammy Brandt has cut down the days her restaurant in Loganville is open, serving take out breakfast on the weekends in the morning. While she didn’t have a number, she said sales were down. Usually open every day except Wednesdays, Brandt said March 23 she’s serving carry out breakfast options from Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“Depending on how long this is going to take it’s going to hurt somewhat,” she said. “But I guess if they don’t support it, then that tells you a lot about the community.”
She said with only three restaurants in Loganville and a village of more than 300 people, it’s up to the community to provide support, not only for her own establishment but also the other restaurants going through the same ordeal.
She said the cake business the restaurant has is still “going strong” for now as has cupcakes and cake pops available for sale for the Easter holiday available for pick up. While the cake businesses had a lot of birthday parties cancel with the public health order, weddings haven’t been cancelled yet as some of those events are set up for later this fall, she said.
At J’s Pub and Grill, carry out sales equals about 10% of the restaurants meals at most during normal operation, Pettit said. He still has bills to pay, including a mortgage for the building where his restaurant sits at 280 Viking Drive, and anticipates his business won’t have any profits until normal operation picks back up when the public health order is lifted.
“As an owner you don’t necessarily get a paycheck,” Pettit said. “You kind of live off of what’s left after all your bills were paid.”
Brandt said she would be fine in the short term if the mandates were to be in place for a couple of weeks, but if it were to carry on for months she wasn’t sure how business would be affected in the long term.
“There’s a will there’s a way,” Brandt said, adding she’s just kept doing what she’s doing to try to keep afloat.
While he fears for the unknown, Pettit said he agrees with the state officials’ mandates to keep people out of bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the virus.
Brandt said she has mixed feelings about the mandates but it has nothing to do with her business. While she said the stores have done well to keep up to meet the needs of everyone with stocking shelves to provide the necessary items in demand and regulations of cleaning and disinfecting, she still has her worries.
“Yes, I believe everybody needs to pretty much stay put and everyone needs groceries, but there is still contamination in those stores, I don’t care how they try sanitizing it people are touching products on the shelves itself,” she said.
Evers announced March 20 the state had been approved for federal disaster loans for small businesses. While Brandt said she thought it would help, it would depend on the guidelines.
“It’s still got to be paid back and if your business isn’t generating money you’re going to be further and further behind,” she said.
At J’s Pub and Grill, the entire lunch and dinner menu will be open to curb side orders starting March 24, Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. by calling 608-768-0623.
Anyone who wants to place an order at Sissy’s Café can call the restaurant at 608-415-5915 or Brandt’s cell phone number: 608-415-7865. Brandt said she would need a three-day notice for a cake order and its menu is on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Both establishments said gift certificates are also available for purchase.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.
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