FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Restaurants across the Summit City have been working to figure out how best to keep their businesses alive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have continued carry-out and delivery services while others have closed completely, for the time being.
Casa Restaurants has been able to keep the doors open at its four eateries. No layoffs have happened, but some workers have chosen to stay at home, according to Director of Operations Tom Parisi.
“Our guests have always supported us over our 42 years,” Parisi said.
On a typical night, pre-pandemic, Casa saw 20-30% of business coming from carry-out orders. Parisi told WANE 15 those sales have continued in the past month, but overall sales have been down 50% and the restaurants are “not running at a profit.”
Parisi thanked customers for being generous in tipping and grateful as they navigate dining rooms transformed into social distance-friendly carry-out lines.
He added that Casa needs more guests, which is the case for many Fort Wayne restaurants, including Big Eyed Fish.
According to Big Eyed Fish owner Tony Bryant, the company’s two express stores are doing well, but the sit-down business on Wells Street is struggling. It has been open for carry-out and delivery through the pandemic, but business has not been strong enough to keep all of the staff working. The end of the Lenten season had a noticeable affect on sales as well.
There was optimism in Bryant’s voice when he talked about the future.
“We’re going to get through this,” Bryant told WANE 15.
Like many small businesses, he is counting on a combination of help from the federal government’s stimulus plan and a timely end to the situation for his business to survive.
“Things could be better, but also could be worse,” Bryant added. “At least we can still offer something.”
Some restaurants have been asking for help via social media, triggering lines and spikes in business.
Just this week, a post on Pint and Slice’s Facebook page noted the business was struggling and asked people to consider ordering a pizza. It was shared more than two-thousand times. It was followed by posts thanking for a massive amount of support resulting in wait times over two hours.
King Gyro’s in downtown Fort Wayne also saw a flood of customers rush to the restaurant at the end of March, but not at the business’s doing. A post from a struggling Indianapolis restaurant was shared to a Fort Wayne Facebook group, triggering a line along Jefferson Boulevard.