Experiences, Comments, and Suggestions for Restaurant Businesses Dealing with COVID-19

John Verderame
Tiffany Helton

March 30th, 2020

Our Larimer Small Business Development Center (SBDC) advises a large number of restaurant and food products businesses and entrepreneurs. We’re extremely fortunate to have two experienced restauranteurs as consultants, Tiffany Helton with Stuft Burger and John Verderame, veteran of several high-profile restaurants.

Here are some of their experiences, comments, and suggestions for restaurant businesses dealing with the COVID-19 virus impact:

John, a New York City native, says “After 9/11 we really pushed to get people back in-house. While that’s not possible right now, a great way to bring in some cash, while keeping contact with your customers, is to promote and sell your gift cards.” He added “I’ve seen a lot of activity within the last week where some bars/restaurants are expanding their takeout business to include things like, purchasing full meals for delivery, selling alcoholic beverages for pickups, and advertising gift card and virtual gift card systems. Another trend I’m seeing is for restaurants in food production facilities to do meal preparation programs that are tailored towards specific diets and restrictions.”

Tiffany, co-owner of three Stuft burger restaurants in Northern Colorado says “We’re a full-service sit-down model of restaurant. We considered trying a take-out option, but we estimated that we would only do 20-30% of our normal sales, and at those numbers we couldn’t afford to stay open. It was in the best interest of our staff to lay them off, so they could quickly file for unemployment. The businesses that have chosen to stay open are at least paying operating expenses, but not covering much payroll.” Tiffany provided her team with unemployment insurance information through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

Both Tiffany and John acknowledged that “take-out places are doing well”.  

They encourage other restauranteurs to quickly contact their leasing/property managers, to see what can done to discuss and negotiate reductions and/or delayed payment. “People are being flexible, a lot of restaurants are in the same situation.” Tiffany is applying for an SBA disaster loan. She says “the cash flow is important, I only have a certain amount in reserve.”

Tiffany and John are available for one-on-one consulting through the LBDC and Larimer SBDC. 

Please visit our website to schedule an appointment, and learn more about COVID business recovery resources, including funding resources.

www.larimersbdc.org        970-498-9295                    www.lovelandbusiness.com     970-667-4106

Kat Rico

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