Gay-owned restaurants adapt to ‘new normal’ of coronavirus

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LGBTQ-owned restaurants in Atlanta have reduced hours and offered new services to adapt to the massive upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many already stopped dine-in service before Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms restricted restaurants to offering food by delivery, drive-through or takeout. It’s forced restaurants to get creative in order to continue to stay open and provide jobs. JenChan’s in Cabbagetown shuffled the duties of employees, according to Co-Owner Emily Chan.

“We turned our servers into delivery drivers,” she told Project Q Atlanta. “So our little staff of four has been here every day.”

The restaurant also continues to offer takeout orders. But making them has gotten more difficult due to social distancing, according to Chan.

“We split shifts so there’s only one person in the kitchen at a time,” she said. “My other cooks work a shift, then I come in and work mine. It affects the speed of our execution.”

They also sanitize the restaurant more frequently, and all staff are required to wear masks. They got a boost on Friday when Bottoms signed an executive order allowing restaurants to serve alcohol with takeout orders.

“It’s huge,” Chan said. “Alcohol is an incredible percentage of our sales. We had to operate for a while in the beginning without the ability to sell booze and it was a definite struggle.”

“Every little bit counts in an industry with the smallest margins out there,” she added.

The order is in effect for 60 days.

Las Margaritas temporarily closed

The coronavirus pandemic forced MetroFresh Owner Mitchell Anderson (top photo) to temporarily close the Peachtree Street location, cut hours at the Monroe Drive location and shift to takeout and delivery only.

They’ve also ramped up sanitation efforts to slow the spread of the pandemic.

“We’re constantly sanitizing everything in the kitchen and at the counter,” Anderson said. “We already are very sanitary, but there’s extra special precautions for sure.”

“I guess people just have to get used to the new normal and hopefully we’ll be able to do enough to get through this,” he added.

Las Margaritas is temporarily closed and Mama’s Cocina Latina is open for drive-through business only, according to Owner Oscar Valdivieso (second photo).

“Atlanta really has to focus on the health and the well-being of the employees and the small businesses and work together to completely stop spreading it,” he said. “We’ll figure it out. It’s altering our lives at the moment, but we just have to be very disciplined.”

Valdivieso has also provided food and money to employees who lost shifts.

“We’re coming up with a plan for how we can survive the situation, how we can run a business in this situation and how we can help our employees and their families,” he said.

An Atlanta non-profit has also switched to food delivery — pet food delivery, that is. Pets Are Loving Support helps pet owners with disabilities. The non-profit switched from in-person drops offs to delivering pet food to clients through Amazon and Chewy, according to Executive Director Buck Cooke.

“Just because there is a pandemic does not mean our clients still don’t need help providing for their pets,” he said. “We felt it was important to continue to provide pet food for them and that is why we are using delivery services during this time of social distancing.”

How some LGBTQ-owned restaurants are adapting their operations:

Campagnolo: Offering takeout and delivery

Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand: Offering takeout

Firepit Pizza Tavern: Offering takeout and delivery

Guac y Margys: Offering takeout

Henry’s Midtown Tavern: Offering takeout and delivery

JenChan’s: Offering takeout and delivery

Mama’s Cocina Latina: Drive-through service only

MetroFresh: Takeout and delivery from Monroe Drive location only. Peachtree Street location closing March 23.

Midtown Moon: Offering takeout

No Mas Cantina:Offeringtakeout and delivery

Twisted Soul: Offering takeout

Virgil’s Gullah Kitchen & Bar: Offering takeout and delivery

Woofs: Reopening March 23 to offer takeout

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