Posted on 2020-04-28
WORCESTER (CBS) – It’s a rescue attempt to save restaurants and restaurant jobs in New England’s second largest city. This is “Worcester Takeout Day.”
The coronavirus is doing a number on restaurants. Some are shut down and the rest are trying to get by with just pickups and deliveries.
Owners say this takeout day could give them a much needed boost. “Obviously we’ve taken a hit,” said Tom Oliveri the owner of Peppercorn’s Grille and Tavern on Park Ave. in Worcester. He’s been getting creative. In addition to the menu items, they’re selling takeout beer and wine, often at discounted prices, while emphasizing customer safety. “We’re doing totally contact free, curbside deliveries. Call us and we’ll run it right to your car,” Oliveri said.
At Altea’s Eatery on Grafton St. it’s the same story. “It’s been crazy. It’s been a challenge for us trying to switch gears, going from a regular menu to all takeout,” said Altea co-owner and chef Anton Mehillaj.
So when Worcester City Councilor Sean Rose proposed the first “Takeout Day” the full council got behind the declaration.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think it gives people a reminder that we’re here,” said Altea co-owner Oriola Koci.
“It’s just another way to boost our business and hopefully showcase what we have,” added Oliveri.
It also means jobs for restaurant workers and local meals tax for the city. During the last fiscal year that tax put more than $3 million into Worcester’s coffers. Now it’s up to the customers. “It’s tough for them to get business doing only takeout, so we support them and any local business we can,” said Vanessa Andre, a customer picking up an order at Peppercorn’s.
To underscore the importance of the restaurant industry, according to the National Restaurant Association, about 8-million restaurant employees have lost their jobs nationally during the shutdown, and the industry will lose $80-billion by the end of April.