Restaurants now relying on take-out, delivery orders

Coronavirus

Gov. Brown ordered restrictions on restaurants, bars

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The coronavirus is hitting the restaurant industry very hard. Oregon is now the latest state to join the growing list around the country closing restaurants and bars.

The restaurant group Chef’s Table is closing all 20 of its locations for at least 4 weeks. They’re now relying on customers to use their take-out and delivery services. But they only expect to make a fraction of their normal profit.

The decision comes after the group’s owner, Kurt Huffman, told KOIN 6 News he went ot one of his restaurants over the weekend and saw it packed with people.

“It was packed full of people and I just had this horrible feeling that somehow we are not doing the right thing,” Huffman said. “People are putting themselves at risk.”

One of their restaurants, Lardo, is managing all their orders online. The group is already planning to temporarily lay off about 700 of their 800 employees.

Kurt Huffman, the owner of the restaurant group Chef’s Table, in Portland, March 16, 2020 (KOIN)

Lisa Schroder, the executive chef and owner of Mother’s Bistro, said they waited until they heard what Governor Kate Brown had to say.

Oregon restricts restaurants, limits gatherings to 25 people

“All sorts of benefits, grants and insurance monies won’t come unless the governor is the one to make the call,” she said.

Before the governor’s announcement, Mother’s Bistro spaced tables out to help with social distancing and heavily increased their cleaning procedures. Schroder said business took a nose dive and they are staffing less.

But they, too, plan to rely on customers ordering take out.

“My fear is that so many restaurants won’t make it. I fear a lot of us won’t make it,” Schroder said. “I hope we can survive if we shut down because God knows how long it could be. But how many other places can’t?”

A customer picks up an order from a Portland restaurant, Lardo, during the coronavirus pandemic, March 16, 2020 (KOIN)

‘We just sit here and watched our business crumble

Less than a year ago, Jim Rice and his wife bought The Fields, a restaurant-bar at Northwest 11th and Northrup.

“My wife and I have dreamed about having a business like this for over a decade,” Rice told KOIN 6 News. “We believed we were in the right place, right industry. We had an amazing customer base. We were so excited about this business.”

The Fields Bar & Grill at NW 11th and Northrup in Portland, March 16, 2020 (KOIN)

Like countless other restaurant and small business owners, the Rices could never have imagined something like COVID-19 would threaten everything they’ve worked for.

Business at The Fields got so slow Rice had to let 10 of his employees go.

“We’re down to 8 people,” he said. “It’s incredibly hard because you’re letting go people that have literally come together as a family. It’s like letting go your brother, your sister and they’re going to leave into an industry that’s already devastated.”

After Gov. Brown’s announcement, Rice said things look even more grim. But as hard as it is, he’s trying to be optimistic.

“There’s so many moving parts in what’s going on right now it’s difficult to understand what the future’s going to look like.”

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