Restaurants concerned about impact social distancing will have on business

Posted at 10:14 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-14 23:53:14-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — With social distancing being encouraged during the coronavirus pandemic, some local restaurants are concerned about how that could affect their business.

"We can look at this as our smokers half full or our smokers half empty," said Todd Johns, Plowboys Barbeque founder, "and we're just choosing to look at it as we're half full."

Local businesses like Plowboys Barbeque are trying to keep a positive attitude during a time of uncertainty.

"We're in the same boat that this whole country and this whole community and this whole world is in, and that's wait and see and just be as smart as you can," Johns said.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, Johns said his business isn't the only one worried about foot traffic.

"We expected a decline," Johns said. "We haven't seen it yet, I think it's coming and we're preparing for that."

To keep customers coming through the door, Johns said he has implemented changes at all three of his restaurants in the Kansas City metro area.

"We've removed a lot of the self-service items in the dining room," he said, "and so all of the sauce bottles with barbecue sauce, sauce pumps, any self-service pickles or jalapenos or anything like that is now behind the counter."

All three Plowboys Barbeque locations have a sign posted on their pop machines that requires guests to use a new cup for every refill if they are dining in.

Les Ganninger is a frequent customer and said he appreciates the precautions his favorite restaurants are taking.

"Well, restaurants in general, sanitation's their middle name, right?" he said. "So I feel confident to come out and not worry that I'm going to pick something up."

Ganninger told 41 Action News that he's being mindful of social distancing, but still getting out of his home.

"We need to flatten the curve, we need to be safe, wash your hands, take the precautions, but don't panic," Ganninger said.

Across town at Pizza 51 in Kansas City, business is being affected but not by the virus itself.

"It's slowly sinking in when, when UMKC closed and Rockhurst closed," said Jason Pryor, Pizza 51 owner, "and that takes a good chunk of our business as well as our employees that aren't coming back to that, so we're going to be a little short staffed."

After the school closures, some students were left without a place to live. Pryor told 41 Action News seven of his employees attend UMKC and had to move back home.

"I think I'm like everybody else," Pryor said. "Just taking it one day at a time, taking the information and soaking it in and dealing with it as it hits us."

While each business is impacted in a different way, both told 41 Action News they were taking things one day at a time.