Local restaurants struggle to adapt amidst pandemic

Since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses to close on March 15, the local restaurant industry has struggled to stay alive while adapting to the rules of social distancing. Many restaurants have simply closed because of the pandemic. But some have remained open for business, trying to earn income off of take-out and delivery. 

     “We’re doing take-out and delivery only. We take orders over the phone, and we do contactless delivery or curbside pick-up,” said the hostess from Christopher’s, a neighborhood restaurant and bar in Wayne.

     Due to the pandemic, some restaurants which previously had been dine-in only are now offering delivery. 

     “We don’t typically offer delivery, but we are now doing delivery service,” said Michael, the general manager at Ripplewood, an American restaurant and bar in Ardmore. “So me, the general manager, our bar manager, as well as our head chef; we’ve been making delivery runs for anyone who wants it. We also partnered with Caviar to deliver and we just added Uber Eats to try to capture as much business as possible.”

     Because dine-in options aren’t available, restaurants are trying to maximize their take-out orders.

     “Fridays and Saturdays are still busier, which is good because those would normally be our busier days of the week anyways,” the hostess from Christopher’s said. “We would love to be open, but we’re doing all right with the take out.”

     In addition, due to the government’s social distancing order, restaurants have had to make major changes to the number of working staff members.

     “We’ve been following whatever Governor Wolf says. We have a very limited staff. We call it a skeleton staff. It’s just a couple people on at a time,” the hostess from Christopher’s said. 

     Because of this situation, restaurants have also had to adapt the type of food they serve and change their menus.

     “If you’ve never been to our restaurant, takeout and delivery is very different from what we do. We’re a family restaurant, and we’re used to being busy all the time,” the hostess at Christopher’s said, “We had to cut down our menu just to accommodate how there’s less staff and less product.”

     In addition to shortening the menu, some restaurants, such as Savona, an Italian restaurant in Gulph Mills, are adding family meals, which are portions that are large enough to feed a family of four, and are less expensive than ordering four individual entrees. As well as changing menus, some restaurants have also changed their hours because of the different demands of take-out and delivery.

“Now more than ever, local businesses need the Main Line consumers’ support.”

joey kauffman ’22

     “Typically we would have been open for lunch starting at 11:30am up until 10pm, but we shortened the hours to 3 to 9 during the week and 1 to 9 on the weekend.” said the general manager at Ripplewood. 

     In addition, restaurants are also changing their physical layout because of the pandemic.

     “We’ve rearranged the front part of the restaurant to accommodate the needs of takeout and delivery,” said the general manager at Ripplewood. “We moved the cash register towards the door rather than having it behind the bar.”

     Although takeout and delivery do bring some business to restaurants during these hard times, it isn’t nearly enough to support a full staff.

     “We fired all the employees and we’re working as a family,” said the manager at Crust Mediterranean, a restaurant in Bryn Mawr that serves both Persian fusion cuisine and pizza. Crust is still open for take-out and delivery. 

     Because take-out and delivery cannot replace the revenue dine-in customers would generate, local restaurants are struggling. 

     “Sales have dropped to about 25% – 30% of what they used to be,” the general manager at Ripplewood said. “We’re still offering the full menu, and we’re adapting to try to serve as many people as we can.”

     Restaurants and other small businesses in the country are suffering as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. They are forced to go to extreme ends to persevere through the pandemic and give customers the same satisfaction that they delivered before. They are doing this and only making a fraction of their previous revenue. Now more than ever, local businesses need the Main Line consumers’ support.

Author: Joey Kauffman '23

Joey Kauffman is an Editor-In-Chief for The Index for the 2022-23 school year. He previously served as a Managing Editor, where he won a Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for his opinion piece “Start Language Learning in Lower School.” His review of the movie "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" also earned him second place in the Pennsylvania Press Club Annual High School Journalism Contest. In May of 2023, Joey’s features piece, “Controversy swirls around fan section nickname” won second place in the National Federation of Press Women High School Journalism Contest after winning the Pennsylvania competition.