Eateries continue to adapt amid changing rules

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Eateries continue to adapt amid changing rulesWhile the reopening of indoor dining appears to have been pushed even further into the distance, based on the “Blueprint for a Safer Economy” released last week (see related story, Page 1), local restauranteurs have continued to find innovative ways to alter their business models in order to continue serving their customers.

“I never imagined, back in March, that we would still be closed down almost six months later,” said Tim Smith, executive director of the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce.

“I don’t think any of our businesses predicted this — particularly the requirement to move patrons outside at the peak of summer.”

Two of our restaurants have closed down in the ensuing months, though it remains unclear whether COVID-related restrictions were the sole factor. Many, however, have found ways to remain in business during the uncertainty.

“I’m very pleased to see how many restaurants have adapted,” said Smith. “I think it shows how our business owners have really reflected on how to remain viable under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

Last spring, the chamber partnered with the Ridgecrest Area Convention and Tourism Bureau to gather a list of local restaurants that were maintaining service in the early days of the shelter-at-home orders.

“Originally the hotels were trying to get a list together for visitors. It turned out no one really had a database like that, so we decided to create one.”

Chamber staff has continued to add new establishments to the list, and have done their best to adapt the levels of service (dine-in, curbside-pickup, delivery, patio seating) as guidelines and operations have continued to evolve.

“It has also been very encouraging to see our community remain faithful in supporting local businesses — just drive down the street to see how people have embraced the places that have found a way to remain open,” said Smith.

“I’ve also heard, over the last several months, a lot of people talking about being intentional about going out at least once a week to make sure that they show support to their favorite restaurants. In return, those restaurants have created unique and engaging environments so that people can enjoy the dining-out experience.”

Smith said he believes one of the advantages of living in a small town are the connections between patrons and the people who serve them.

“When you walk into restaurants, these are our friends and neighbors — people we recognize. We know they care about us, and we want them to know we care about them, too. For a lot of people who live here, it’s important to them to know that the people who are suffering are going to make it through this.”

Pictured: Marcela Everitt (left) serves tea to a patron in the garden of “My Enchanted Cottage” — which serves Victorian-themed tea and dainties at its Ridgecrest Boulevard location. — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-09-04