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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Top Stories > Business

Take-out options help keep local businesses alive

Mar 26, 2020

By Margaret Bruetsch - reporter/photographer

Local businesses like the Cochecton Fire Station have made adjustments so that they can continue to serve their customers.
COCHECTON — The Cochecton Fire Station has its garage door open for pickups of food and cocktails to go, and like many restaurants in the area, are trying to do business when everyone's being told to stay at home. Owners Josiah Early and Ezekiel Miller are currently forging ahead into uncharted territory.
“We didn't know what to expect in any way, shape, or form,” Josiah Early said. “It's risky and you have to invest money for any venture. We wanted to make sure we used what we had on hand.”
The Cochecton Fire Station originally planned to go orders to be delivered to customers' cars, before they opened up the garage door, bought supplies for signs from Callicoon Supply, placed barriers to ensure appropriate social distance from customers, and established a drop off point for food.
They've been using their current supply of regular to go containers for food, and bottles to transport their signature cocktails.
And the safety of their employees and customers is a priority for Early and Miller. The only people entering the restaurant are themselves and their employees. Customers are encouraged to call ahead before picking up to limit contact, and as Miller said, “Why wait if you don't have to?”
“What we really encourage restaurants [to do] -- if you're set up for to go orders -- is limit the amount of people serving,” Early explained. While their employees mix drinks, cook orders and package them to go, Miller and Early are at the door taking payments. “People want to talk to business owners and hear what your precautions are. Take precautions into your own hands, people are looking for leadership right now and people will have more consumer confidence if you show initiative.”
Take-out only may be the societal norm in bigger cities or more concentrated areas than Sullivan County, but the new model is offering a way for locals to continue taking out from their favorite restaurants while also helping the local economy. And New York State added an extra boost by allowing restaurants to serve alcohol to go, something that's commonplace in states like Louisiana.
“I've always felt as a bartender, and I've been a bartender for 20 years, that people want one more drink before going home. I've always felt a to-go model should be in place to curb drunk driving,” Early said. “Promoting self-responsibility is important for cocktails to go.”
The new model allows customers to take their drinks home with them and enjoy them safely at home. And that means it's okay to order a few drinks for a few days as long as it keeps people safely at home.
Miller and Early know that neighboring restaurants are navigating the same unmapped waters.
“I worry about every person, not just their physical health but their economic health,” Early said. Miller and Early know that there will be people who can't pay for their food and are ready to make accommodations for those struggling because the current climate dictates a change in normal circumstances. “This is not a time to be competitive,” Early said. “This is a time to break even, maybe lose a little money, and invest in the future of business.”
Other restaurants are embracing that idea of change: the Liberty Diner has launched a way to order take-out online through their new website. Restaurants from Tavern on Main in Jeffersonville to the Miss Monticello Diner and the Roscoe Diner are running new take-out only operations, and others like Yanni's and Annie's Ruff Cut are offering family style dinners to-go. Numerous diners and small cafes including CJ's Deli and Lorenzo's Bistro are offering free meals for students.
Meanwhile, local grocery stores and general stores are experimenting in ways to deliver or pre-package orders for customers while all Peck's locations were closed this past Wednesday as a day to completely restock for the safety of their employees.
While the Cochecton Fire Station's doors are open, that doesn't mean things are business as usual. Restaurants are trying hard to keep things the same, but menu items might be altered based on the availability of supplies. Miller and Early ask customers to be patient and understand that hours may be limited or change unexpectedly, which is another reason why you should always call ahead.
“Restaurants have to do what they can to make it work,” Early said. “We dealt with Woodstock and fed half a million people. I'm invested in this community. And the outpouring of support from customers…I know translates to other restaurants.”
Keeping a business open can impact numerous lives from the suppliers to the employees and their families. The Cochecton Fire Station still has their employees coming in and encourages other businesses to do what they can to keep their employees on in some capacity.
And customers can help them do that by investing in a meal once a week.
“If you can help a business stay alive, please do,” Early urged.

Photo by Autumn Schanil

Photo by Autumn Schanil

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