NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - As Governor Beshear and Governor Holcomb closed restaurants, then reopened them with limits to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s changing the business model for business owners. While a majority of restaurants across the area recently re-opened in-person dining, there are some still only doing carry-out orders, like Chicago City Pizza in New Albany.
“You know, we’re only open five days a week, but I can tell you it’s an eight-day a week job,” co-owner John Stamper said. “You know, it’s... it’s tough.”
Almost a year after opening their doors, the dining area isn’t filled with people. Instead, pizza boxes stacked for carry-out orders fill the space.
“We made a decision we had to go to complete carry-out and that was a huge transition,” Stamper explained, after saying 90% of their business used to be sit-down orders.
The switch to carry-out only has been an expensive investment, too. Only Stamper and his wife, Renee, are working at the restaurant now. The rest of the money that would normally employ others is going to packaging and other bills.
“It’s changed,” Stamper said. “It’s different everywhere you go. It’s like there’s new procedures for everything.”
Stamper told WAVE 3 News he doesn’t plan to re-open the dining area until January or February of 2021 at the earliest. He wants to know more science behind the coronavirus before reopening and hiring people back.
“The social distancing, the sanitation, the cleaning, everything. That everyone’s level... you have to work at it,” Stamper said. “Everything’s changed. The game has completely changed.”
Without a PPP loan, the Stamper’s have adjusted the past four months to make sure customers are still getting the pies. Several times in the last four months, they have also donated all of their daily profits to other small businesses that are hurting.
"The only thing that I can say on is like, I was there to help other people in their time of need," Stamper said. "That's the only thing I want to be remembered for. Not the best pizza not, you know, not the best steak, not what have you. I actually helped somebody else out when, you know, no strings attached helping them out."
Stamper wants to encourage other new, small business owners to not give up and learn to adapt.
“We all we’re all just trying to you know, make our rent payments, pay our bills, be with our kids,” he said. “You know, enjoy life.”