We always see a movie, and this week was my turn to pick. However, there was part of me that refused to accept this new way of living. Monday morning, March 16th, it all changed.
On Facebook. In November, we were all dealing with very limited money, very limited capital. And then we knew what the volume was going to do. We knew we were basically safe from closing but it might take some extreme measures to be able to stay open.
I think it taught a lot of our hourly employees how to do their jobs a little bit better, because the margin of error was almost gone. Shoot, his kids are dishwashing, his mom has been prepping, his dad has been prepping, his father-in-law's been prepping. Thank God they all know how to cook. That includes technology throughout the restaurant and the online ordering system.
Volume has returned. Food costs and staffing are the concern. Wings are one of those — we pulled our wings off of our happy hour pricing because of the cost of those. The one thing that hasn't really changed too much has been seafood. We're lucky that we have that option. That's been sort of a blessing. But to have to close for the four days around Easter to give the staff a break was — I mean it was a no brainer.
I usually do a little Christmas bonus and stuff. And I didn't do it this year, because I was afraid of what was gonna happen next. And without the income, they had nothing. Mazzolini is also grateful to be in St. They did all the work. We don't deliver.
I think the loyalty thing is big right now. There was a pattern. Are they going to shut us down again? There was no consistency.
We have a lot of people that came in like twice a day or every day instead of once a week for takeout. That really helps. It was a problem for us. We just had a bad run of equipment breakdowns. Basically broke even this last year. What are we gonna do?
The skinny: Eaglemonk never applied for any assistance. Buonodono figured it was better spent on people who needed it more. What they dating is some heartwarming moments from loyal customers, including their nearly 2, mug members. They Lansing in every week for takeout or sat in the freezing cold in our beer garden over the winter. But even with that, though, it's not terrible and I live a mile from the restaurant.
That can be a problem with limited dine-in service and more carryout orders. He is, though, concerned for the entire industry about customer expectations as places reopen more and more for indoor dining. Staffing levels are a problem. The generosity, the kindness of others who have been our friends and guests and others who have heard about the grub we create, how we do it, how we interact. They rose to the occasion. There are some things that touch you. That touched me in ways I never thought I would be touched through a restaurant.
The skinny: Fidler's on the Grand in Lansing had been around a couple years before the pandemic hit. That pain had to be experienced. Better for us, this is more than a bigger.
Thankfully at this chapter in my life, I recognize it and appreciate it. The pandemic did delay the opening of the East Lansing location until this past March.
And so it was just him and I working in Owosso. Flint and East Lansing locations were closed down. I would say that was the low point — driving over to the East Lansing cafe and just checking up on things a couple times a week. It was like a ghost town. It was just it was really bizarre. Same with Flint. The skinny: Foster Coffee Co.
All three cafes are back open and hiring, running into the same challenges as most of the industry.
And that's been really cool to see what ways in which we can do that. We kind of shifted our thinking around that a little bit. And she ended up posting a video last year pleading for help that ended up getting a lot of traction. The stuff that was seen on that video and the emotion pouring out of Monica, that was just a small snippet of the many, many, many hours-long conversations about like, is this something that we even can continue to pursue?
The skinny: Groovy Donuts, in East Lansing and Williamston, has found a way to survive the loss of bigger orders and wholesale contracts by paring down expenses, cutting days open down to four a week, reaching out to customers and accepting their generosityimproving online ordering and, notably, with its two owners diving back into baking all night — which they thought they had finally left behind before the pandemic hit. Our in-store sales kind of keep the lights on and pay payroll.
All that other stuff is kind of where you have an opportunity to make some profit and those things are all off the table or reduced ificantly right now. Low point: Now. But if it stays like this, it's going to be very, very hard. Borrowing money from other places savings, etc. Downtown Lansing where we get many of our customers for our Lansing location was closed completely.
There was a couple months that we were just waiting to see.
We were thinking of maybe shutting down one location. That was at least two months when the pandemic started. But we managed to keep it open. I didn't want to close it because I knew it was going to be hard to reopen again. The Williamston location, which opened a week before the pandemic struck, has fared better.
The response in Williamston was pretty good. Is this what I should be doing? This is what you're doing and it motivated me more than ever. Now my dad is back in there and life is good again. And then with it being my second year open, word of mouth about my food spread.
It was just more that that's usually a pretty good time for us. Christmas parties, moods are pretty good.
To have to be shut down again for indoor diningthat time was kind of hard for us. Silver Bells every year is usually our busiest day. We prepare for that for a month. Just not being able to see everybody downtown and have that, it was just kind of lacking at that time.
I'm definitely in a better hepace right now. The skinny: Midtown Brewing Company is getting creative to counter the lack of foot traffic and uncertainty in downtown Lansing. And then there are days when there's almost more than then you can handle. It's hard to prepare for. We've got a really good staff, a good core group of people that have worked for us for a really long time. And they've been really great.
And I did wonder at that point when things were going to turn around or if they were going to turn around. But then, after we opened up for indoor dining in February