A few weeks back McCall officials and business owners got together for a round table to discuss how restaurants can remain in business during the colder weather.
Since then, the temperature dropped, snow hit the ground – and restaurant owners have had to act fast and figure out a plan for the winter.
Chef Steve Topple, the owner of Ragazza Di Buffalo in Donnelly and Caldwell, Ragazza Di Lago in McCall and the co-owner of Blue Moose Drive-Thru in McCall weighed just about every option.
“I’ve researched so many options for the winter season, (including) the igloo-type tent which I personally don’t think is safe,” Topple said. “Because if someone coughs and has the virus and then goes into the igloo, I feel it is contaminating the whole igloo. I’ve thought about tenting in patio’s, but I feel like with the amount of snow we receive it won’t be safe and unfortunately, I feel that many of these options won’t work for us and also are very expensive.”
So, Topple says he has no choice but to continue to do what he has done all summer, which includes keeping the tables spaced out, offering takeout and use disposable menus.
“We did ok, not fantastic,” he said. “The takeout business was great on weekends. They were our saving grace, to be honest. With that being said, we have had a bunch of return consumers just for takeout even since we reopened. They feel safer and they are eating great food.”
Navigating the pandemic
At this point, Topple is more worried about another lockdown than he is about making it through the colder weather.
“We only have very limited funds to survive,” he said. “I am already troubled by my balance book. If we will have to shut our doors again for a lockdown, for just takeout that doesn’t pay the bills. When will we be able to fully bounce back and survive after shutting down, reopening, it is a really scary time for sure, No one knows when things will be back to normal.”
Valley County’s COVID cases are on the rise, and with so much uncertainty, Topple urges people to support local small businesses.
“Please continue to order takeout, go in and eat if you feel safe, buy gift certificates, and such,” he said. “Every little bit helps. Businesses want and need your support to keep afloat. A lot of restaurants will help you feel comfortable eating out if you just ask them. We can put you in an isolated area if requested, So please don’t be afraid to ask questions and see what they can do to help you with your eating out experience.”