Lake Oswego restaurants hit hard amid coronavirus pandemic
Some Lake Oswego restaurant employees showed up to work in tears Tuesday morning. Others expressed worry about how they'd pay rent or put food on the table for their families.
"It's a very real thing that happened so quickly," said Joe Buck, owner of Babica Hen and Gubanc's Pub.
Buck had to temporarily lay off about 70 employees and close both restaurants after Gov. Kate Brown limited gatherings of no more than 25 people and ordered bars and restaurants to cease all dine-in operations due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Some Lake Oswego restaurants have opted to close altogether, while some have chosen to try to stay open and participate in pickup options and delivery through services like Postmates and DoorDash.
Buck said he opted for temporary restaurant closure to promote social distancing. He said people have stocked up on food from grocery stores and hunkered down so he doesn't think many people would order take-out this week anyway — though he will take the temporary closure day by day.
"It's a big transition for us just as a business," said Buck, adding that his focus has shifted to finding resources for employees. "We had so much product on hand already. We had our employees coming in today to take food home for their families and people are really worried."
Buck said he's working on finding resources for employees to help fill the gap in pay.
Chuck's Place, Chuckie Pies and Casa Pequena Taqueria owners Lisa and Chuck Shaw-Ryan have also had to temporarily lay off almost 20 employees and close their dining areas.
Though face-to-face time might be limited, people can still participate in take-out options and order online through delivery services like Grubhub, Postmates and DoorDash for the time being.
"Clearly it's deeply affected our business and our staff (so) we are going to attempt to do take- out," said owner Lisa Shaw-Ryan. "We've always been a gathering place and that's obviously not the case now … I'm still processing and trying to figure out what to do."
They've also limited their hours. Chuckie Pies is open Tuesday to Saturday from 4-8 p.m.; Chuck's Place is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon and Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon. The taqueria will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 5-8 p.m.
Shaw-Ryan said all items will be in to-go packaging and staff are following stringent, sanitary practices.
"The business is in great jeopardy for us," Shaw-Ryan said. "I think the restaurant business is going to look significantly different after this."
Throughout this tough time, Shaw-Ryan said the community has been very supportive and they hope to serve people as effectively and safely as they can right now.
Shaw-Ryan said to check the restaurants' Instagrams for updates.
Gregg Matteucci, owner of Tucci Restaurant, is remaining open seven days a week for the time being, and is offering pickup and delivery options.
Matteucci's entire staff consists of about 35 people and he's had to temporarily lay off 80% of them.
He said he's taking it day by day and is hoping for his employees to have a swift return to work. "Their job is waiting for them as soon as we get back up and running," he said. "The support from the community, I just cannot even begin to say how overwhelmingly positive it has been."
Matteucci said he and others in the restaurant industry are trying to figure out ways to help employees and the larger community through this health crisis.
"(There's) nothing in our manual that sort of prepares us for something of this scope," he said.
Buck, who also planned to open Lola's Cafe Bar at the Beacon late spring, said he won't open in the middle of this and his top concern is the people who are being directly impacted in the worst way by this health crisis.
"We're all in such a vulnerable position," he said, adding that he hopes leaders at the state and national level develop a response to keep people in their housing and food on the table. "No one's ever experienced anything like this before … People who have never been in need before are going to very quickly be in need. It's going to expand greatly."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.