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Eateries hit hard during viral outbreak

Staff writer

Restaurants were among the first businesses hit hard by fears caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

One local restaurant might close.

Mike Beneke, owner of Edward’s in Marion, said business has taken a big drop in the last two weeks.

“Two weekends ago, we took in over $3,000 on Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend it was $680,” Beneke said.

Dine-in customers made up 99% of Edward’s business before COVID-19, he said.

Restaurant hours have been cut. The diner used to be open 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., and reopen from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“As of today, we are open 11 to 1,” Beneke said. “We’re doing drive-through or carry-out only. The only reason we’re open at all is to try to clean out some food we have in.”

Beneke said he doesn’t know what will happen after this. It’s possible he will close Edward’s despite not wanting to.

Beneke said physician Don Hodson, consultant for the county health department, told an Edward’s employee two weeks ago the dining room should not be open and suggested it be closed that day.

“I want to thank everybody who helped us get where we are,” Beneke said. “I guess I should have told them that a month ago.”

Beneke said he’s driven past several restaurants during peak meal times and seen empty parking lots.

Business is very slow also at Cazadore’s Mexican restaurant in Marion.

“We’re down to like six orders a day. It’s affected us a lot,” co-owner Leora Ramirez said.

Jonathan and Leora Ramirez plan to stay open for to-go orders. They are making allowance for customers who want to avoid entering the establishment.

“If they don’t want to come inside, they can call in and we can do curbside orders, whichever they prefer,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the public should think about supporting these local businesses.

“They’re going to want places to go when this thing is over, and if they’re not here …” she said.

Guadalupe Sosme, who co-owns El Lorito Mexican Restaurant in Hillsboro with her husband, Ezequiel Sosme, said she felt fortunate the community has been supportive of the restaurant.

“We are open for take-out,” Sosme said. “It’s been pretty decent, not what we would expect it to be.”

El Lorito is using fewer staff members, with one person working in the kitchen and one in the front, but she said the business is “perking away.”

“We plan to stay open as long as we can and as long as we’re allowed to,” Sosme said.

James Clark, assistant manager of Wendy’s in Hillsboro, said the business closed its dining room a week ago and is serving drive-through only.

“We still get business, just not as much,” Clark said.

Jay and Judy Smith, co-owners of Gambino’s Pizza in Marion, said the pizzeria is keeping regular hours, but sales are down 50%.

“We’re open our regular hours as of yet,” Judy Smith said. “We feel if we start closing, people won’t know if we’re open.”

The salad bar was shut down when the state banned self-service food at restaurants. Gambino’s is offering carry-out orders only.

Last modified March 25, 2020

 

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