Being under quarantine has challenged and will change the face of restaurants
I've been radio silent on this blog for the last two months. Not on purpose, of course, but because I haven't been eating out since mid-March, roughly around the time this whole Stay Home/Stay Healthy business started. When restaurants were ordered to be closed (outside of take-out and delivery) I had some plans to keep an up-to-date listing of who was still open for business, but local restaurants were already doing a great job of daily posting what was available on the various different Facebook pages and it seemed superfluous. I was also going to do reviews of take-out orders but, to be honest, we've actually only ordered a take-out meal once since then. I went into hunker down mode and we've been making all meals at home. I'm sure it's the same case for many locals who suddenly lost their income(s). Which doesn't exactly help the local restaurants out, but it is what it is.
While the landscape for reopening various businesses still seems long and drawn out, restaurants, cafes and bars will continue to be some of the most hard hit. I'm only assuming that strict measures will be in play once restaurants are allowed open with social distancing throttling the number of patrons in a restaurant at once or requiring some level of outdoor seating. Worse case scenario over the next 3 - 6 months is that restaurants will be forced to continue in take-out/delivery only mode for months on end. In either case, this is going to force restaurant owners to make some hard decisions: either close permanently or figure out how to retool their businesses to operate in this new landscape that will, no doubt, continue to change.
For those restaurants who have stayed open and are offering take-out/delivery, they're challenged with how to keep people interested and their menus fresh enough to entice people to spend money on food without the dining experience. For those restaurants in a holding pattern, waiting for the "all clear", they are tasked with deciding when to pull the trigger and reopen and just do the take-out/delivery option or close altogether. In the future (I assuming sometime in the fall), all of them will have to adapt to a potential change of in-person dining and what that might possibly look like for their operations. The success of a restaurant will be based primarily on how willing they are to completely rethink what it means to be a restaurant over the next 12 - 18 months, rather than those expecting things to go back to "business as usual". And that requires an analysis of everything beyond strict state guidelines and includes how to adapt their menus, ordering, staffing and marketing.
Make the Pledge!
Now, a glimmer of hope for local restaurants... Hopefully with stimulus checks starting to roll in from both the state and federal government, we'll see a resurgence of people enjoying more restaurant food. I, for one, am pledging to eat out more often using this supplemental income to support our local industries which (for Roslyn) is predominantly restaurants. I've been shopping only locally where possible - my friends who own these businesses that make the Roslyn/Cle Elum area as special as it is deserve our support and have been bending over backwards to provide a safe environment, whether that be delivery, curbside options or safe in-house access.
Now, more than ever, the adage of "Eat Local / Shop Local" is imperative. Otherwise, the towns that we love and the reasons we love them won't survive.
I pledge to support the following restaurants in Roslyn in April:
(I'll update my pledge in May for the restaurants I'll be supporting) Roslyn Mexican Grill