Local restaurants and bar management discuss the impact of COVID-19

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Restaurants and bar owners/managers discuss the impact that COVID-19 has had on business as restrictions continues.

In mid-March, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an order that forced restaurants and bars to stop dine-in options as the state battles COVID-19.

The decision left many local restaurant owners and managers to quickly decide their next step.

“We didn’t have a framework for it because we’re super heavy on in-door business,” said Noelle Cress, manager at Sonka’s Irish Pub.

While dine-in is limited, Holcomb’s order does allow for restaurants to offer pick-up or delivery options.

Cress says like many others, Sonka’s Irish Pub has seen a decrease in business due to the order, but with the community’s support the pub has still seen their fair share customers.

“Day to day it varies. On the weekends obviously it picks up but we’re super thankful we’re able to continue what we’re doing,” Cress said.

Cress also says a decision from the governor to allow carryout alcohol sales has been important for business.

“We’re actually able to fill and sell growlers now, that has helped us significantly,” Cress said.

Brandon Knoepfle, founder of Acorn Grill in Sullivan, says after restrictions were put in place staff with the restaurant looked forward to other ways to serve their community, and so far Acorn Grill has seen some positive results.

“It actually freed up some time for us, instead of serving in-house guests we were able to serve guests and still are at their homes. I would say 20% of our guests in the last 3 weeks have been new guests,” Knoepfle said.

Knoepfle says he is optimistic about the future but believes the restaurant industry will have to be prepared to make adjustments as attempts are made to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We are so accustomed to working on the fly, that’s all we do all day is work on the fly. This is no different, you know, we just have to work on the fly in a new area,” Knoepfle said.

Cress says she also believes resources that have come available like small business loans and unemployment will help lessen the burden on some businesses.

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