Restaurant owners are thinking about mortgages and home sales

For the past 27 years, the owners of the Water Street Café couple have worked hard to make the restaurant a favorite facility in the seaside autonomous region of Stonington, Connecticut. But less than a year after the coronavirus hit, they’re just trying to keep the door open as their economic options diminish.

With rising COVID-19 infection rates, winter weather may end indoor meals and reclose all indoor meals in Connecticut.

“It’s very overwhelming,” said Stephanie Hayes Houlihan, who considered selling the couple’s house and moving it over a restaurant. “My husband and I are in their 60s … we’re less than a few years old. If we lose a restaurant, it means we have to go out and look for a job at our age. Means. “

More than 600 restaurants have been closed throughout the state since the pandemic began, and the final number could reach thousands without government support, according to Scott Dolci, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Warns that there is.

Many owners, especially those who run small restaurants, are worried that they will not be able to survive the winter after running out of personal savings, giving up their salaries, taking out loans and running out of credit card debt. doing. This is in addition to significantly reducing staff and time.

“I’m just getting dull. This was the most difficult time our industry is facing right now since the beginning of this pandemic, and it’s very scary,” he said in a recent telephone conference. It was. “They don’t know what tomorrow will bring to their industry.”

Hayes-Houlihan said that if indoor meals close again, her restaurant’s “best case scenario,” co-owned by her husband and chef Walter Houlihan, relies on takeaway sales and donations. He said it was going to survive the next few months. Customers may leave a $ 5,000 check on the windshield of their car and government support may be available.

“But I say every day, every week, just as we are open … If you can’t cover fixed costs, salaries, and fixed costs, it’s a proposal for defeat,” she said.

The Restaurant Association is seeking a greater share of the state’s Federal COVID-19 Relief Fund for greater grants to restaurants. Connecticut offers up to $ 5,000 in grants, but Dolci says that’s not enough.

Some frustrated owners have appeared in court. On Friday, the State Supreme Court heard a proceeding in a proceeding filed by Milford’s pub owners who challenged Governor Ned Lamont’s authority to close bars closed throughout the pandemic. A group of small business owners, including two restaurant owners, had a similar argument in another proceeding.

Democrat Lamont understands that “incredible pain” restaurants are facing and has eaten indoors so far, despite demands to withdraw from medical professionals. He said it could be maintained at 50% capacity. However, it is doubtful that the state has the funds to provide larger subsidies.

Gina Pellrine, who owns Rodd’s Restaurant in Bristol since 1988, has applied for a $ 5,000 state grant. She will be grateful for the money, but that’s not enough. Her electricity bill alone is over $ 2,500 in her small canteen, and her net profit has plummeted 44% compared to 2019.

“I can’t get the money. I’m in a hurry to pay the landlord. And I have to be moral. It’s wrong not to do that,” she said.

Due to the reduced staff of waiters, Pellrine arrives at 2am and prepares for customers before they arrive. When the pandemic first occurred, she received a salary and stopped paying her monthly severance pay. Since then, she refinanced her mortgage and charged her credit card for supplies. Perine also has a $ 80,000 loan in case of an emergency and is considering selling or renting the villa if things get worse.

At this point, she doesn’t want to give up, even if she has to resort to takeaway and side dish businesses.

“I have to feed the community,” she said. “People rely on me.”

At Stords, Hop 44 co-owner Nancy McKennie said the business was “terrifying” in recent weeks. Last Sunday, the brewing pub, which has about 20 indoor tables, had only seven patron tables all day long.

“They don’t change because we still have operating costs. The rent doesn’t change. My electricity doesn’t change. My labor doesn’t change. I’m paying employees. We’re all just standing, “she says, estimating that business is down 60% from last year.

Both McKennie and her husband work outside the restaurant and devote themselves to saving money to cover their costs. But McKennie has no intention of doing anything more.

“I close the door before I get another loan,” she said. “Fortunately it’s not my only income, so I’m not going to put myself in such a situation, so I close the door first.” __

This story has been updated to correct the name of the restaurant in Bristol. It’s Rodd’s Restaurant, not Rod’s Restaurant.

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Restaurant owners are thinking about mortgages and home sales

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