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Restaurant owners reflect on navigating pandemic

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 6:09 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Coronavirus pandemic has changed and challenged many industries and businesses for nearly a year, including restaurants.

There’s more to a restaurant than just food and drinks, it’s an experience, and restaurants have been working to bring that experience back since it was taken away last March.

“A really uncertain time, I almost hate to think back to that time because it just brings up all these emotions of uneasiness and uncertainty, and fear, and what’s going to happen and how long is this going to go on for, and are we going to be able to sustain and survive this,” said Owner of R Wine Bar in Sioux Falls Riccardo Tarabelsi.

R Wine Bar closed its doors for roughly two months early on in the pandemic. Something Ken Bashore, CEO of Vanguard Hospitality, did as well with Minerva’s, Grille 26, Morrie’s Steakhouse, and Turks & Caicos Cabana Grille.

“We had to pivot just trying to understand what it is we were looking at, it seemed like every week changed,” Bashore said.

Once reopening, with many safety protocols in place, it was time to shift focus.

Bashore added, “We still kind of looked at it as if someone was sick how would you view it? If you’re coming into one of our restaurants what would make you comfortable coming into it?”

Through the challenging times, both executives found a way to adapt their operations by utilizing takeout and other resources, emphasizing they would not have made it to 2021 without such a generous community.

“A part of last year when we were just reopening people were very verbal about, ‘we have to come support you because we want you to be here when this thing’s over.’ They’re just overtly, ‘we’re here to support you because we believe in small businesses, we believe in locally owned businesses,” said Tarabelsi.

“Our customer base really has helped us, they’ve stuck by us this entire time they pivoted with us because we all had to,” Bashore added.

Moving forward Vanguard Hospitality says they are cautiously optimistic about the future, as they are seeing more and more people visit their restaurants every week.

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