How 2 restauranteurs are adapting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic

Reggie Wade
·3 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many restaurants to alter the way they serve their customers. Zane Major, operations director of Paschal’s Restaurant in Atlanta, and Barbara Burrell, founder of Sky’s Gourmet Tacos in Los Angeles, know this well. The two restaurateurs appeared on Yahoo Finance to discuss how the pandemic has affected their approaches to business.

Major told Yahoo Finance that Paschal’s started doing something that they have never done before.

“We have never in the past done third-party apps and delivery services, so quickly in March it just became clear that we were not set up to be successful in that model. So we closed for about two months, and during that time, we really spent time operationally thinking about how we can restructure this to be something that our customer base needs and make sure we’re on the right platforms in the right way,” He said. The Atlanta restaurant also made its menu leaner when it came to price and offerings.

 Paschal’s Restaurant in Atlanta
Paschal’s Restaurant in Atlanta

“One of the main things that we did was dramatically reduce our menu offerings and lower our price points. So we really wanted to just go to our core menu offerings, which is a fried chicken and a few of our other Southern staples.”

Burrell took a different approach when it came to pandemic adjustments for Sky’s Gourmet Tacos.

“Most difficult for us was to stay the course. We didn’t change prices. We didn’t change our menu items. What we did was fine-tune. We went right from the top. We looked at the labor structure and that is instead of cutting salaries, we cut hours only when we had to. And that meant that the top management would go in and work so our people could keep their jobs. This is how we maintained.”

Sky's Gourmet Tacos
Sky's Gourmet Tacos

“Well, in terms of where we are as a nation and as the entire world is definitely a very unique challenge,” says Major. This is definitely very unique as it affects everyone, regardless of skin color, creed, religion. It’s been an interesting challenge for us. At times it’s been fun, and at times it’s definitely been challenging, but we’re surviving through it.”

Many eateries are looking for help in terms of PPP loans. Major told Yahoo Finance that Paschal’s has applied for both rounds of PPP through its larger corporate company. The famed Atlanta institution has received the first loan but is waiting for the second. Burrell tells Yahoo Finance that these loans are what’s needed to help restaurants during this time.

“I’m prayerful. As a matter of fact, we’re waiting. My business, which has been around for some time, is this. We need this surge. We need this financial pop because it will assist us going on. Now, when we talk about repayment and all of this, this is a whole other agenda that we have to get ready for. And we think about that in whatever loans that we apply for. God knows we look for grants, but we have to have this. This is needed for us to sustain right now.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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