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Morris restaurants, businesses working to adapt amid coronavirus pandemic

Several days into Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement mandating that all restaurants and bars turn to delivery services, the owners of some establishments in Morris say they are working to adapt in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, the state of Illinois has issued a shelter-in place order to help curb the situation.

Melissa Goffinet, the owner of Greenhorn Saloon and Eatery, said they didn’t know how to adjust at first.

“We always offer pick-up, just not delivery,” she said. “I think we have it down now.”

Goffinet described the lunch and dinner rush as “crazy.”

“Our phones weren’t equipped for it,” she said. “We only have one line. We can’t even get anybody to come here. So, that was the hardest part. We can only take one order at a time.”

Goffinet said Greenhorn has been cutting back on expenses, being normally staffed by 15 employees each day, but that total is now down to six.

“We didn’t put much of a food order in because we didn’t know if we were going to get closed,” she said. “We’re just having people that want to work come in. We’re not making anyone work.”

Melinda Courtney, the owner of Tully Monster Pub and Grill, said employees were laid off in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We only had a couple,” she said. “Myself as the owner, I’m doing it all myself. I’ve got one of my cooks as my delivery girl.”

Courtney said the sale of food is down by about 30%.

“We normally do delivery and carry-out,” she said. “We do have a lot of dine-ins. Obviously, we’ve lost that end of it, but it’s not as horrible as I thought it was going to be.”

Courtney said the community’s outpouring of support speaks volumes.

“They’re tipping astronomically,” she said. “It brought me to tears. The outpour, it’s just fabulous. We live in an amazing little town.”

Courtney said she hopes things turn around quickly, so she can bring back her employees.

“The future is unforeseen,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get what we want and what we need from our vendors, if, in fact, we’re continuing to be allowed to stay open.”

Todd Boss, the owner of Brewed Awakenings, said the coronavirus pandemic has led him to change the way his establishment operates in more ways than one.

“We’re not allowing people to come in anymore,” he said. “We’re running strictly off of the drive-thru.”

Boss said another change at the establishment is the way they sanitize.

“We’ve become draconian in our sanitation procedures,” he said.

Boss said the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t significantly impacted Brewed Awakenings because it’s more of a coffee bar than a restaurant.

“90% of my business was coming through the drive-thru anyways,” he said. “What we are seeing the difference is, like I’ve done today, this time of day the dining hall would be completely full of people and families and everybody getting together, but now it’s not.”

Brewed Awakenings intends to alter how it operates after learning of the governor’s shelter-in place order, which went into effect Saturday.

“We’re probably going to cut down on staffing,” Boss said. “Instead of having three people on in the mornings, we’ll drop it down to two.”

Jackie Clisham, co-owner of Morris Chop Shop, said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the restaurant to cut back on expenses.

“Most of our expenses are product and labor, so we’re just down to the two owners and two managers,” she said. “All of our hourly staff is laid off, as well as some of our salaried staff.”

Clisham said the community’s support of Morris Chop Shop has been appreciated.

“The customers have been tipping,” she said.

Clisham said they’ve been looking into loans to help the restaurant stay afloat.

“That’s what we’re contemplating now,” she said. “Our biggest fear is taking loans and basically throwing good money after bad. If this gets extended and business is slow, it’s just more debt that we’re incurring.”

Clisham said she remains hopeful amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“If it wraps up quickly, we’re very optimistic,” she said. “If it doesn’t, I don’t know how people are going to react. I don’t know how the economy is going to react.”


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