Restaurants reflect two years after COVID-19 hit Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) — It has been two years since COVID-19 hit Badger State. Many aspects of life have been disrupted, including the restaurant industry.

From staff shortages to food shortages to pandemic guidelines, restaurants have had their fair share of tough times.

David Gordon is the co-owner of Lucy’s Eatery in Chippewa Falls.

“We had a tough run,” Gordon said.

Like many restaurants, Gordon and his business partner have struggled to operate during the pandemic.

“We were then closed for eight weeks and managed to keep Lucy open by only doing take-out,” Gordon said. “As long as we could afford our salaries, we were prepared to stay open.”

Besides being closed for weeks at a time, Gordon says another hurdle COVID put in their way was trouble.

“I had no employees and we were closed for ten weeks and it was a tough time because I had a week, 30 interviews pending and someone came in for those interviews,” Gordon said.

The Acoustic Café in downtown Eau Claire has also been impacted by COVID.

“We finally closed for a few days, maybe a week,” said general manager Riley Olson. “At that time, we were just doing sidewalk, which, you know, is just a way to connect with the community and stay open and stay.”

Olson says one thing that continues to be a challenge is inventory.

“It’s been finding certain items that, you know, people come here for a certain item that they really enjoy and we can’t find it anywhere,” Olson said.

Despite the tough times, Gordon says things are starting to look up.

“We finally had a team, we went back to five people, it took us ten weeks to go back to five people and we’re doing well,” Gordon said. “It’s been slow to come back since we got the full crew. We are progressing a little each week.

With more people eating at the restaurant again, Gordon says he’s happy to see customers returning.

“Just to hear people laugh and have fun, having lunch with friends was important,” Gordon said.

Olson feels the same.

“I recognize so many people now from being here so often and just seeing them every day is great,” Olson said.

Gordon and Olson say they can’t wait to see more customers come out as the warmer months arrive

Gordon says one thing he’s learned as a business owner during the pandemic is to stay encouraged during tough times.

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