How to support local restaurants, a story from Greg’s Grill
Marvin Walder/The Broadside
Greg’s Grill is a beautiful restaurant located in the Old Mill District, right along the Deschutes River. It’s primary focus is on providing a high quality dining experience to it’s customers through a combination of specialty dishes, inviting atmosphere and scenic views.
However, this year has proven tough for many restaurants, and Greg’s Grill is no exception. What made adapting to this year’s unique circumstances especially tough for Greg’s Grill is that they traditionally focused on high end dine-in experiences and hosting larger parties for special occasions, both of which are no longer possible due to current COVID-19 restrictions.
This doesn’t mean Greg’s Grill is about to close it’s doors though, in fact, General Manager Andre Gregoriou is sure that with the help of his team and the support of local patrons, Greg’s Grill will be able to continue to provide customers with great meals and experiences like it has done since it opened in 2007.
Adapting to changing restrictions
Restaurants are inherently risky businesses, this is because restaurants “operate on very thin margins” due to high costs involved with food and labor, and relatively low profit margins per each item sold.
Gregoriou explained that, “it’s hard enough in the best of years to make money, and then when we are hamstrung by the pandemic, limited seating capacity, and social distancing, it becomes much more of a struggle. On top of all that, there are more costs associated with the pandemic.”
Changing restrictions have created large costs for restaurants trying to stay compliant with current restrictions, and in combination with lower amounts of customers, it has resulted in tough times for most of the industry.
But this year’s adversity hasn’t dissuaded Gregoriou and his team from working to overcome these hurdles. There have been many operational changes to Greg’s Grill to follow the ever changing guidelines throughout the year, ranging from implementations of partitions between booths to now exclusively offering spaced outdoor seating.
Gregoriou demonstrated that one of the biggest changes made to accommodate customers is that Greg’s Grill, “went from a very very minimal to-go or takeout option, to [takeout orders] probably being about 10-12%, which is a pretty big increase.” Gregoriou also said that “you want to be seen as taking this responsibly, because it is a serious thing.”
To Gregoriou and his team, it’s imperative that customers feel safe and understand that the team is doing everything they can to follow guidelines while continuing to serve the community.
The impact of local restaurants on the community
Restaurants serve important roles in the community, and not just by serving food and creating hubs for meetings and entertainment. Restaurants also provide a lot of crucial jobs, especially for young adults and students, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck.
Gregoriou explained that, “even these bigger restaurants that might be perceived as chain restaurants, whether it’s McDonald’s or Red Robin or whatever, they support hundreds of people who live and work here in town, and then spend the money in town.”
It’s important that local businesses survive, not only so that the community can still have access to their services, but also in part due to the importance of retaining employment and stimulating spending (from both the customers and the business itself) in the local community.
What the community can do to support local restaurants
Given the personal enjoyment restaurants provide and their importance to the community, many people might wonder how best to support local businesses over the holidays. Gregoriou mentioned that “people have embraced coming back and dining, which we’re really thankful for.”
“The best way for [customers] to support any restaurant is to support it by getting a bite to eat, grabbing a drink, getting a to-go meal, or buying a gift card,” Gregoriou said.
Many local restaurants have worked hard to ensure their customer’s safety, and to find ways to best serve them despite changing restrictions. So if there’s a local business you’re thankful for this holiday season, make sure to treat yourself, because at the same time, you’ll be supporting fellow community members and ensuring that those goods and services will be available for others in the future.