Local Restaurant Owner Discusses Challenges During Pandemic

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR-TV) — After nearly 10 months since the first shutdown, the restaurant industry is still in limbo, and the post holiday months make things even harder.

The restaurant business as a whole really slows down quite a bit in the month of January and February with a little action around Valentine’s Day. So we’re already going into the slowest season of the year so for us, we’re going to change our direction a little bit.” – Francis Pezzalonella, Local Restaurant Owner

Francis owns multiple restaurants in Utica. He’s made some tough business decisions by cutting their hours and only taking reservation. He also had to put a hold on opening his new tapas restaurant Nostro.

Nostro will open up as soon as people can sit in groups together and can roam about the restaurant without having a mask on. I don’t see us opening up before that. There’s just no way.” – Francis Pezzalonella, Local Restaurant Owner

Although he’s adapted to business during the pandemic, Francis says one of the hardest challenges has been trying to staff employed.

“Trying to be able to afford to keep them working so they can support their families and that when this is all over that I can still afford to have jobs for all of them.” – Francis Pezzalonella, Local Restaurant Owner

But he still plans on opening a new restaurant. It’s a fast food styled burger place called rick’s that’s prepared to handle another shutdown

“This one is geared to handle the COVID environment. We have ordering kiosks where a customer can come in, place the order without making any contact with our staff.” – Francis Pezzalonella, Local Restaurant Owner

Francis say the safety and health of his staff and customers is his number one concern.

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