As social distancing becomes the new norm to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, local businesses bear the brunt of the economic slowdown. The closure of restaurants and bars to sit-down service locally and around the world has business owners making adjustments to ride out this rough period.
“With spring training canceled and less travelers coming off the interstate, we’re seeing July-like numbers [in terms of business]… we’ve never experienced a March like this,” Nick Alexopoulos, owner of Two Brothers Kitchen in Anthem, told In&Out last week, prior to Gov. Doug Ducey mandating restaurants stop sit-down service after the state health department’s recommendation was announced.
Many small businesses are trying to earn community support by cleaning and sanitizing to protect both customers and employees, based on recommendations from the federal health officials and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
‘Making it Work’
On a recent afternoon in Anthem, many businesses propped their doors open during an otherwise quiet business day. Several were wiping down door handles, counters and waiting-room tables. Some medical offices allowed only patients with scheduled appointments to enter and prohibited visitors. Other businesses posted notes on doors encouraging phone calls to conduct business in place of in-person visits. Some choose to voluntarily close altogether for at least the next couple of weeks.
While dining in may be largely out, several restaurant owners are seeing an uptick in carry-out and delivery orders, and some are adding Grubhub and DoorDash. Others are getting creative by offering curbside and new drive-up options for patrons.
“We’re making it work… we’re serving the same people, they’re just doing delivery and pickup now,” said Brandon Amaya, son of the owner at Tortas Chano. “We just gotta ride it out,” he added. The restaurant delivers to Anthem and south to Loop 303.
Filibertos in Anthem planned to begin offering delivery service to Anthem and nearby residents March 20. Two Brothers Kitchen will continue to offer carry-out and curb-side pickup services, and has added online ordering and delivery. Tennessee Grill delivers and is selling barbecue meats by the pound in vacuum-sealed packaging, which keeps it fresh 7–10 days in the refrigerator or up to a year frozen. Amped Coffee Company has a pop-up food truck just outside of the shop to offer drive-up and curbside delivery.
Free Toilet Paper?
At the time of this writing, many other businesses were operating as usual, or as close to that as safe and practical.
“We are open, the doors are open, fully staffed and we welcome the opportunity to assist our great customers,” said Justin Simons, a State Farm agent in Anthem. “Our long-term plan is to never shut down unless the safety of our team or customers comes into play.”
ProSkill Service found business volume normal last week as customers began having air conditioners serviced in advance of warmer weather.
“Folks who are sick or at high risk have expressed their hesitation for us coming into their home,” said Tyler Ringe, ProSkill’s president. “We have instituted work-from-home policies in the office and cleanliness/sanitation protocols in the field to combat this.” Also: The company is handing out free tissue on Toilet Paper Tuesdays.
How You Can Help
Buy Gift Cards Support your favorite salon, spa, restaurant, shop, gym or arts organizations. They’ll get much-needed income now and you’ll benefit later.
Order to Go Support restaurant staff and the local drivers. And don’t forget to tip!
Hire Help Call up a local landscaper, plumber, electrician, window washer or home-improvement specialist to finally tackle that project you’ve been wanting to do. See In&Out classifieds, page 27.
Tips for Businesses
- Provide curbside pickup/drive-through service
- Increase ventilation with open windows and doors
- Avoid handshaking and instead use non-contact greeting methods
- Stagger customer flow with booking and scheduling online and by phone
- Regularly disinfect door handles, knobs, counters and frequently touched surfaces
- Provide space for customers to be distanced 6 feet apart
- Use online transactions where possible
- Promote Tap and Pay
- Make hand sanitizer available for customers
SOURCE: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Department of Health
—Robert Roy Britt contributed to this article.