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Springfield restaurants adapt to COVID-19 regulations

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — One of the cornerstone industries in the Springfied area is the restaurant business, and certainly those workers are feeling the changes as much as anyone.

Downtown Springfield looks a bit different these days due to the stay at home order. Director of the Downtown Springfield Association Rusty Worley says the restaurants have all handled things in their own way.

“We have over 60 restaurants downtown,” Worley said. “Many of them have adapted and are now doing some sort of carryout options or deliver. There are a few that have decided that it just doesn’t make sense for them based on their scale or other parameters.”

There are some places that fall somewhere in between, like Gilardi’s Italian Ristorante. Owner James Martin says they closed just before the order went into effect, but even before that, Martin let his staff know changes were coming.

“I prepared the staff, I was reiterating, save your money, get ready,” Martin said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but you need to prepare yourselves, and prepare your families to get ready for this.”

James’ wife Courtney, who helps manage the restaurant, helped some of get them set up with unemployment, and the Martin’s took some time to plan things out for thier business.

“We reprocessed, repurposed all the food we needed to, so we’re ready to go when we’re given the green signal,” Martin said. “We were prepared most importantly financially, and that’s one of the reason we decided not to do curbside service.”

At least, not right away. Instead, this weekend they began operating Friday and Saturdays only doing pickups if you call ahead.

“I will be the only one cooking in the kitchen, my wife will be the only one bringing the food out,” Martin said.

While the situation isn’t ideal, it’s still a way to serve their loyal customers. But, many have closed, and the future looks uncertain.

“Where do we go from here, and how the process will be on the other side of this is yet to be determined,” Worley said.

Martin says he feels for his fellow restaurant owners in the area and says it may be a great opportunity to reinvent themselves as they will be during this time by revamping the look of their building.

He says if you call ahead anytime, he’d still be happy to cook for you, as they live very close to their store.

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