BY ANYA KAUFFMANN | COMMUNITY NEWS SERVICE | DECEMBER 7, 2019
Restaurants in Hinesburg are trying to feed their customers, while still adapting to COVID-19 restrictions.
Just recently, restaurants have been allowed to fill 50 percent of their in-store capacity, leading many popular spots around town to reopen for sit-down service.
When COVID first hit, Hinesburgh Public House transitioned to only offering takeout food, thinking that they would have less business than with their usual sit down service. Customers seemed to keep returning for business however, so they began to order more food supplies, according to Public House owner Will Patten.
Although Public House has completely sterilized their space, most customers still want to sit outside, Patten said, so they added an abundance of public seating.
“People really appreciate the chance to buy food or to not cook at home,” Patten said.
In order to protect their customers, Public House takes everybody’s names when they come in to dine, among other restrictions.
“We keep a record of who was working and who was a guest every day, we wipe down every table between service,” Patten said. “Everything that can be disposable is disposable, everybody wears masks.”
Patrick Mara from the Paisley Hippo said they are offering takeout and to-go orders exclusively. In addition, hours have been reduced to only five days a week.
“It’s made it a lot safer for all of us,” Mara said.
Doug Harper, co-owner of the Parkside Café, said that they are offering indoor service, outside service, and curbside service. Their hours have shifted a bit as well, now open 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Harper said social media has also aided a bit in the restaurant’s continued success through the pandemic.
“We’re just fighting everyday to try to get through it,” Harper said.
Kim Dattilio from Papa Nick’s said that their hours have also changed. They are only doing takeout and picnic style outdoor dining, according to their website. The pizza joint is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., offering their ordinary menu as well as varying weekend specials.
FOR MANY, OPEN RESTAURANTS MEAN COMMUNITY
Patten started Public House because he felt that Hinesburg needed a place for many members of the community to get together. It has been important for the people of Hinesburg to continue to have a place to gather, whatever that means through a pandemic, Patten said.
“[Public House] is a place where people can communicate, meet old friends, make new ones,” Patten said. “A community is defined by its gathering places. [Public House] is one of the big gathering places.”
Public House is also important to the community in other ways, Patten said. For example, they are commission driven, and they hire a lot of kids from Champlain Valley Union High School.
Patten said that he is scared of cases growing in Vermont, knowing that would lead the restaurants to be shut down again.
“It’s the last thing we need,” Patten said. He said he has never seen anything like this pandemic in all his time working in the restaurant industry, but he thinks good will come from it.
RETHINKING BUSINESS IN THE FACE OF CRISIS
“There’s a quote that nobody really knows where it came from, but it said ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’ So, hopefully we won’t let this crisis go to waste. [We have to] rethink everything,” Patten said.
Patten said Public House has to re-negotiate their fixed costs, such as utilities and rent, as opposed to their variable costs. They are always able to buy less food, and hire fewer people.
Harper says that he has to purchase a certain amount of food for Parkside, but that things are constantly changing, so he has been needing to seek out new vendors.
“Every day is a little bit different,” Harper said.
Patten said it is stressful trying to make a restaurant business survive through a pandemic, but that businesses are always trying to survive regardless.
“Businesses are always struggling for survival,” Patten said.
Public House is in for the long haul, Patten said, and that they are not planning on going away.
“This is a values driven business. It’s a benefits corporation… We’re here for the community and the food producers and the staff and the guests,” Patten said, “We’re not going to let it die.”
OTHER RESTAURANTS OPEN IN HINESBURG
Good Times Café is offering delivery, curbside pickup, and limited outside dine-in seating.
Bucky’s Pub’s deck is open for service Thursdays and Fridays from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM, and Saturday from 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM.
Dragon House Restaurant is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Monday 3 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.