PLATTSMOUTH – Two Plattsmouth restaurant owners who were contacted this week both agreed the safety of public from the coronavirus (COVID-19) is the main concern.
“Absolutely,” said Back Alley Diner owner KaCee Peters. “Safety is always first.”
“Absolutely,” echoed Mary Harrison, owner of Mom’s Café. “We understand the situation.”
Nevertheless, their sales have dramatically dropped from the recent mandate from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts in response to the virus, they added.
Last week, the governor ordered restaurants in several eastern Nebraska counties, including Cass, to close except for takeout/delivery service.
“It’s been devastating to go within a week’s period down from 50 to 60 orders a day to two or three orders a day,” said Harrison, whose café is at 422 Main St. “It’s very hard. We’re taking it day by day.”
She seemed pleased with takeout orders last Friday evening during her popular fish dinners.
“The support (from the community) was unbelievable,” Harrison said.
However, sales declined over the next two days to just four orders during her entire Sunday hours, she said.
“It makes for a long day,” Harrison said, adding that people might be buying more groceries than normal for staying at home because of the virus.
Peters said she had to temporarily lay off eight employees because of reduced business.
“When you go down to a skeleton crew, it hurts. My staff is like family.”
Currently, she and her mother, plus two employees volunteering their time, are running the business.
“It’s great that they are willing to help us out,” said Peters, who diner is in the same building as the local VFW post.
Her hours have been reduced, also. Until further notice, her diner is closed during the lunch hour, not opening until 4 p.m. It’s also now closed on Sundays.
Harrison had to temporarily lay off 10 employees with just two managers, her husband, Ross, and herself running things for the time being, she said.
Her hours have also been reduced to where the café now opens at 8 a.m., instead of 6:30.
The large dining area in her restaurant, normally lit up with tables full of diners, is now dark and empty.
“It’s very emotional,” Harrison said while gazing into the dining area on Tuesday.
The current situation led to Peters to offer delivery service that she didn’t have before.
“If you don’t adapt you’ll be left behind,” she said.
With a small fee, Peters has begun delivery takeouts in Plattsmouth and surrounding areas, including Beaver Lake, Buccaneer Bay, Copper Dollar Cove, even Murray. In fact, on Tuesday evening, she went to Murray to deliver a meal to a party that came up from Nebraska City, Peters said.
“Our delivery service is catching on,” she said.
However, it isn’t just her business that’s hurting, she added. Orders to her food supplier have been cut impacting that business, plus she’s had to cancel her linen cleaning firm.
“There’s a ripple effect,” she said.
Harrison said she can’t wait for things to get back to normal so she can hire back her employees and continue serving in-house meals.
“We miss our customers,” she said.
The Journal sought comment from other local restaurants, but the owners either declined or the business was closed period for the time being.
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