Local restaurants rely on customers during COVID-19 outbreak

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 5:07 PM CDT
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Dining rooms are empty at Silly Serrano and Randy’s Family Restaurant in Eau Claire on Thursday afternoon, but employees are still busy filling orders for customers.

Because of state restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19, “dining in” is no longer an option at Wisconsin restaurants, but customers can still get food from some of their favorite restaurants in alternative ways.

At Silly Serrano, customers are encouraged to order food online or by phone and pick it up at the drive thru window, or quickly order at the counter inside.

People can even order Silly Serrano ahead of time on an app called “Toast” to pay online and avoid exchanging payment.

“It’s a scary time and things are changing every day so we are excited that we can be open for right now,” says Silly Serrano owner, Sheila Arredondo. “We have many employees that rely on us to pay their bills so I feel like we are all in this together.”

At Randy’s Family Restaurant, orders are carry-out only. Customers can order food over the phone or at the counter inside, and employees will even bring food to customers’ cars.

Randy’s Family restaurant co-owner Amy Cope says she is thankful customers still come in for food.

“We have just been really blessed to see the community come out and support each other,” Cope says. “We are thankful for whoever comes in. It’s definitely not what we are used to, we are used to the hustle and bustle, but we are thankful for everyone who comes in the doors.”

In recent days, local restaurants have relied on customers to keep their business up and running.

Both companies have had to let go some employees because of the changes. Randy’s has started selling a special board game with proceeds going to support those employees.

Another way to support local restaurants during the COVID-19 outbreak is to purchase gift cards to use when things return to normal.

Randy’s is still offering its Friday Fish Fry for carry-out. Every order from the restaurant will be sent home with its traditional warm vanilla pudding.

The circumstances are also bringing out the best of people in the community.

Cope says some people have been ordering food from Randy’s to bring to people in quarantine or to the elderly who are trying to stay home.

Arredondo says she brought food from Silly Serrano to Mayo Clinic Health Systems on Friday for the healthcare workers.

In the meantime, these restaurants plan to keep doing what they do best-serve their customers.

“We are fortunate that we are able to still be here and people seem to still be excited to get their food,” Arredondo says.

People can even order from their favorite restaurants using mobile apps like Bite Squad which is offering free delivery for the time being. The company is also adjusting its delivery methods to ensure social distancing.

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