“‘'What do you mean, that we can walk out of here with an Orange Crush?’ It's just crazy, but they've allowed us to keep doing that."
“The first three months of 2020 were fabulous. My numbers were going well, we were getting ready to go into our season here at the beach. Then the bottom fell out.
They said you have to close, but you can do takeout. That was fine with us because we already had been doing a lot of takeout before this year. So we just kind of rolled right into it. Takeout business was so strong that at one point I walked into the restaurant and there were 25 people standing inside, waiting for their food. So we had to go to a different system so that people would come inside when the food was ready to be picked up. And it sounds bad, but some of my numbers were better through March this year than they were last year.
I'm lucky. I have customers that really like my food, I have a great staff, and I have loyal customers. We are open every day. Every single day, so nobody ever has to wonder if we are open. They know they can rely on us. And the community support has been incredible. I mean, when we went to takeout, people were literally just walking in and getting a beer and leaving $100 for the staff, really.
One of the things that helped us out this summer is that Delaware changed its rule about taking alcohol out of an establishment. Before COVID, you couldn’t do it. Under the new rules, you can serve somebody a drink, and, as long as it's covered, they can leave with it. You couldn't drink it inside when we were takeout only, but you could walk up to the bar, order a drink, we’d put a lid on it, and then you had to walk out here to drink it.
So, you know, every time somebody picked up food for takeout, the first thing the bartender would say is, ‘Can I get you guys an Orange Crush?’ And they're kind of taken back, like ‘what do you mean, that we can walk out of here with an Orange Crush?’ It's just crazy, but they've allowed us to keep doing that, even after we were allowed to serve inside again. In the summertime, we had people come from the beach, get sandwiches and take, you know, 10 Orange Crushes back to the beach.
A couple of places closed permanently this year, but those businesses had dropped off anyway before this year. They were hangouts where people would just drink, there wasn’t any food. COVID basically shut them down. When they weren’t allowed to serve customers at the bar, they couldn’t serve at all. Places like Woody’s, where we sell food and have a bar, were treated differently. As long as you were selling food, people could come in and get a beer and walk out the door. It’s kind of strange.
At first, I lost all my servers because I couldn't have any tables. So I kept my kitchen staff and I kept all the bartenders, and they were very vigilant about not going to house parties and such. My kitchen staff is older, but the bartenders weren't going and having late night parties, so you know I appreciated that. I was able to bring the servers back in May.
But then the whole town basically tested positive. Between and the beginning of June, I didn’t know a single person who had COVID. June, 12th, 13th and 14th, somewhere around there, I knew 100. That’s when the senior week kids started to come down. So we actually ended up closing, so I could get my staff tested. We closed for five days at the end of June. We just wanted to get everybody tested. A few of them were positive. So we stayed calm and were grateful everyone was home. I know of other places in town that had higher numbers. So, I mean in the scheme of things we've been very lucky.
Business this fall has been really strong. A lot more people are staying down here past the summer season because their kids don’t need to be home to do school. I expect this will continue into the winter, but not at the same rate as the early fall.
My numbers for 2020 are up, but my profit is down because of the added expenses of cleaning and sanitizing. It’s alright, it’s just the cost of doing business.” - Jimmy, Woody’s Bar and Grill #Delaware