How are restaurants holding up 4 days into the statewide freeze?

She’s grateful the two-week freeze isn't forcing her restaurant to shut down for good, but she said takeout orders have been slower than she expected.

Posted: Nov 21, 2020 7:42 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2020 11:35 PM

LANE COUNTY, Ore. --- It has been four days since the state was put on a freeze, and many business owners are holding their breath waiting to see if they'll be able to financially recover. 

RELATED: GOV. KATE BROWN'S TWO-WEEK FREEZE BEGINS

Restaurants are scrambling to make plans on how they will survive with only being allowed takeout orders, especially during the holiday season.

Patricia Wilson is the owner of Patsy’s Mackenzie Stage Stop in Springfield.

“I started it from nothing, and everything in here has developed over the years,” Wilson said. “I cooked on an electric skillet for two or three years before I could afford to put the bathroom and kitchen in.”

It’s a historic stop and local favorite along the McKenzie Highway in Springfield. Wilson bought the Stage Stop in 1998, but the restaurant’s history goes back even further.

“Wintertime is not our best season, because we get a lot of people who are vacationing and they’re not here,” Wilson said. “So I knew this was my slower season already.”

The historic wildfires put Wilson out of her home and business for two weeks. To make matters even worse, this two-week freeze is forcing her to only do takeout orders. 

Unfortunately, she had to lay off all of her employees during the pandemic. However, Wilson says that's the main reason her  restaurant is going to be survive these challenging times. 

“I’m very lucky, because I don't have a high overhead,” Wilson said. “I don't know what restaurants who have a high overhead are doing. I really don't. I can do this by myself. I don't have to have a payroll.”

She’s grateful the two-week freeze isn't forcing her restaurant to shut down for good but she said takeout orders have been slower than she expected. 

Wilson said many people have come in asking to eat inside. However, once they were told that they can only do take-out orders, many of them end up leaving without ordering anything.

“This is a community stop,” Wilson said. “People like to sit and talk, and we’re unable to do that right now.”

Brittany Quick-Warner, President of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, said they’ve been pointing restaurants towards financial resources but also ramping up communication to the community about the importance of shopping local.

RELATED: RESTAURANTS, GYMS “ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES” AS 2-WEEK FREEZE APPROACHES

“One of the hardest parts is not knowing if two weeks is the only amount of time they're going to be shut down,” Quick-Warner said. “A lot of folks are still pessimistic as they see cases continuing to increase.

Quick-Warner said this freeze has ripple effects, as employees have been laid off during the holiday season which is a crucial time for businesses.

“A lot of our restaurants were adapting, and they were setting up outdoor seating options for folks through the winter,” Quick-Warner said. “I hope that we will be able to get out of this freeze or closure really soon to get those businesses at least a handful of customers throughout the winter season.”

Wilson plans to use donations and money from Thanksgiving orders to pay employees who had been laid off, as well as to help those in need of a boost right now.

“This is an amazing community,” Wilson said. “They support the businesses around here.”

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