COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WOOD) — While many businesses are struggling, perhaps no sector has been hit harder by the pandemic closures than the restaurant industry.
In order to survive, some in the food business are getting creative.
One example is Vitale’s of Comstock Park, 3868 West River Drive NE, one of the many restaurants attributed to the famous extended family of restaurateurs.
Usually on a Thursday night, the bar and dining room would be packed, but these times are anything but usual.
“The majority of our business is sit-down business. We do quite well in takeout, but it took about 60-75% of our business away,” said Agostino Vitale, who owns Vitale’s of Comstock Park with his wife Kerri.
This Vitale’s has been here since 1996, but the owners had to make the difficult decision to close off its seated dining area Monday at 3 p.m. following the governor’s mandate.
“We’ll survive, but hopefully it ends here soon,” Agostino said.
They have had to switch some employees to delivery and take out, and layoff some employees.
“The employees, they need a paycheck. They need money. It’s tough out there with no pay,” Agostino said. “That’s the hardest part.”
With St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA Tournament, March is a big month for the sports bar industry, perhaps the biggest month outside the holidays.
The restaurant’s patio area was renovated just for the tournament.
A few minutes at the take-out area shows lots of folks coming in and tipping big, saying that supporting local businesses in these times is important.
“The community’s been great, very supportive. They’ve all come out and support local businesses. That tells you a lot about the community,” Agostino said.
But starting Thursday, for $9.99, they are offering a do-it-yourself pizza kit that includes dough for a 14-inch pizza, pepperoni, cheese and the top-secret sauce.
“I thought heck, let’s do it. That sounds like fun. It’s hard to stay home with kids all day and try to figure out what to do with them,” Kerri said.
Kerri said she was talking with family members and the idea started to come together.
“It gives the parent’s time to spend with the kids and not be stuck at home and stuck doing nothing, watching TV,” Kerri said. “Good quality time.”
The idea has been a hit on Facebook with hundreds of likes, shares and comments.
“Hopefully, they’re going to have fun doing it and send us a picture so we can all enjoy it,” Kerri said.