APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) Fox cities restaurants are getting hit hard–especially with the cancellation of the traditional way we celebrate major events –like Restaurant Week and Octoberfest. To further complicate matters pretty soon, winter will end outdoor seating, leaving some restaurants at their breaking point.
Normally during Octoberfest, College Avenue would look like Bourbon Street, and not only are the crowds missing from the Fox Valley; they’re missing from the restaurants.
Mark Dougherty, owner of Mark’s East Side says, “Everybody’s like aren’t you happy to be open, but there’s a key element to that you need –customers.”
Restaurants in the Fox Valley are struggling to fill seats because Octoberfest has gone virtual and Restaurant Week has been cancelled because of COVID-19.
Susan Vanden Heuvel, Executive Director of Fox Cities Volunteer, says, “more than 58% of the past participating restaurants asked us to postpone the event and not do it this year.”
Without these events, Fox Cities restaurants stand to lose thousands of dollars.
Dougherty says, “We’ve lost 50% percent, and our losses might be a little bit more than that.”
Hugo Ramirez, owner of Frio Mexican Treats says, “Our sales are about 50% less than last year.”
Jay Supple, owner of Supple Restaurant Group says, “We’re definitely down, but what’s really helped some of the properties is the outdoor patios.
To recoup sales reducing tables indoor because of social distancing, many restaurants turned to outdoor seating, and just like the warm weather— outdoor seating soon will go away along with more profits
Ramirez says, “Not having outdoor seating will cost us at least 25% more sales.”
Jay Supple owns the two Fox River Brewing companies, Fratellos on the Waterfront, the Melting Pot, and the Golden Corral.
He says, “The concern is getting guests back into the dining room. The last week or two it seems to be getting a little bit better not near like it was last year.”
Owners say they’re doing everything to prevent the spread of this virus and want customers their business is needed now more than ever.
Supple says, “We employ a lot of people and they rely on this job. They have families. They have kids and rely on that income. If you don’t trust let the management know because we don’t want to lose guests and we don’t want a virus like this to cause restaurants to close.”
Dougherty says, “What restaurants need is customers when they open and if not the alternative is they’re going to be going out of business.”
Ramirez says, “We all have fear. So, please visit your local restaurants.”