Some popular high-end eateries adjusting to no dining room orders.
For restaurants that do a large chunk of business through a drive-through intercom, a closed dining room is a less complex adjustment.
But what of eateries whose bread and butter is the sit-down diner? The kind of place where the ambiance, food and service are designed to combine to create a complete high-end dining experience?
"I’m kind of in a pickle," explained Jeff Hendershot, owner of Baker’s Cafe 33 in southwest Canton. "Carryout is not our forte."
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Baker’s doesn’t do sandwiches or wraps, traditional go-to takeout menu items. The restaurant — typically open only in evening hours on weekdays — is all about big, juicy steaks and decadent desserts.
"We only do 30, 40 carryouts a week," Hendershot said. "So, I’m kind of at wit’s end because I’m not sure carryout makes sense for us."
Baker’s has turned to its Facebook page, asking its regulars if the restaurant should attempt carryout only during this COVID-19 lockdown.
So far, it’s a resounding "yes."
Hendershot said he has tentative plans to open the restaurant again Wednesday for a trial run at carryout to see if it’s worthwhile.
He said plenty of restaurant workers in Ohio, especially waiters and waitresses who depend on tips for income, are in a bind. Unemployment compensation won’t be enough, and there likely will not be new server jobs available with dining rooms across the state closed.
"My biggest concern isn’t about making money now ... it’s for my employees," he said.
All high-end restaurants in the area and around the state face the same dilemma. Some remain open, while others have opted to close:
• Canton’s Bender’s Tavern, first opened in 1902, already had begun promoting its carryout and courtesy drop-off service last week. The restaurant also devised a special menu of items they believe travel well and retain quality.
• Basil Asian Bistro in downtown Canton is open for carryout and delivery. An employee said they're limiting the number of staff to two in the kitchen and two in the front.
• Bocca Grande Italian Steakhouse, in Jackson Township, has halted operations. A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page explained why: "To make any of this cost feasible for employees and our business, a substantial volume would need to be sustained. To do this would put front-end individuals or drivers in a very hazardous position."
• At Shy Cellars, a Strasburg restaurant, orders can be called in, then picked up inside the restaurant or curbside from noon to 7 p.m. "We've always offered carryout, but never really advertised it," owner-chef Sherry Schie said Monday. "We are combining our lunch and dinner menus ... Things from the dinner menu that are not conducive to travel are being pulled."
• Three Gervasi-owned restaurants are offering carryout orders for pickup or delivery. At the Crush House in Canton and The Twisted Olive in Green, the entire menus are available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. At both restaurants, delivery is available within a 10-mile radius for orders of $50 or larger, with a $5 driver fee. Gervasi also is offering family-style orders of some of its favorites, prepared at Villa Grande for lunch and dinner for carryout and delivery.
La Pizzaria, in Jackson Township, will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays for carryout. Owner Louisa Vuksanovich said a larger than normal crowd dined on Sunday evening, and many of her thoughts lately are on her employees and positive thinking.
"We hugged last night," she said.
The restaurant, with roots dating to 1949, also is a popular spot for a variety of banquets, prom activities, weddings and receptions.
She said some have had to cancel events, while others are trying to rearrange dates.
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