This year is all about change. Whatever you want to call it—pivoting (ugh), rethinking, adjusting, reassessing, consolidating, shifting, adapting—there’s no question that 2020 has required extraordinary flexibility (even gymnastics) from all of us.
But sometimes it’s not the newest, shiniest thing that attracts customers, especially when when you’ve got nearly half a century of serving good food behind you and the goodwill of multiple generations. Carbondale’s Village Smithy Restaurant has been serving breakfast and lunch for 45 years, and while it’s certainly made adjustments to its operations in the last ten months, it’s staying the course and relying on return business to keep on chugging along. Managing partner and co-owner Jared Ettelson weighs in.
DO: What months saw your largest revenues in 2020?
Jared Ettelson: July, August, and September.
DO: What do you feel has been the biggest driver of your profitability so far this year?
JE: Our generous, loyal customers (and a 45-year-history for the Village Smithy).
DO: What are your revenues like compared to this time last year?
JE: The last four months are 102% of last year.
DO: Did you offer takeout or delivery prior to March 17 or for any portion of the shutdown?
JE: [We did] limited takeout prior to March 17, and were closed from March 17 through April 11. [From] April 12 to June 1 [we did] takeout only and did very well. Now with dine-in seating, we’re still doing about 25 percent takeout!
DO: Outside of shifting to takeout/delivery, what other changes have you made to operations this year?
JE: All the new health department guidelines were changes, but we added tables in our yard, maintained two separate entrances and exits, [added] new air filtration systems, [added] more staff and limited server sections for better service. We added a to-go window and to-go server.
DO: Have you had to lay off any staff since March 17?
JE: We did not lay off anyone!
DO: Have you expanded your patio seating, and if so, has it made a significant difference for your financials?
JE: For the summer we added yard tables; for the winter we are enclosing six additional tables on our deck for year round service. These were very necessary for our financial success and customer satisfaction!
DO: What advice would you give to other bars and restaurants looking to thrive right now?
JE: In our area, the majority of people are very happy we are maintaining the health department standards so strictly. No one enters our facility without a mask or stands without a mask. Show you care about what is going on! We didn’t write the rules, but we appreciate everyone for following them.
DO: And conversely, what do you want to hear about/learn from other restaurants?
JE: What does your winter plan look like? We are losing our outside seating option; how do you plan to stay full when people are afraid to be cooped up inside???
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