On most mornings, the talk around the tables at Eggington’s might relate to the price of oil or the results of the previous night’s football games. On Friday morning, there was only silence, save for the voice of owner Pete Fazio.
Fazio made frequent calls while take-out, pick-up and new delivery orders occasionally came through. Like restaurants across Wyoming, Eggington’s must adapt — and quickly.
After Thursday’s order issued by Gov. Mark Gordon to close communal spaces such as bars and gyms while limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery, the popular downtown Casper breakfast spot needed to pivot to survive in difficult times.
They’re one of many restaurants that are looking to delivery as a means to retain some lost revenue.
“It’s going to be the only way,” Fazio explained of opening a delivery option. “The only revenue stream is out the front door. We have curbside for guests pulling up but delivery, however that may look, that’ll be the only revenue stream.”
Following the cancellation of last week’s Class 4A/3A state basketball tournament, Fazio said he contacted Kevin Dietz at Lickety-Split Delivery about adding Eggington’s to its list of establishments it will deliver from. Lickety-Split is a Casper-based company that acts as a third-party delivery service between local restaurants and customers. Having seen Eggington’s business drop 40-50 percent by his own estimates, Fazio shifted towards delivery and take-out. Eggington’s has also began offering take-and-bake options for customers.
A few blocks to the west, Racca’s Pizza Napoletana has also expressed interest in services like Lickety-Split. General manager Rachel Emanuelson told the Star-Tribune that the restaurant would begin implementing a delivery option soon to generate at least a fraction of the revenue lost by having to close its dine-in option.
“Every day I’m re-evaluating what we have,” Emanuelson explained. “This industry’s so unpredictable already, and this makes it more so.”
Thai Kitchen has also opened delivery availability through not only Lickety-Split, but national delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats, avenues that more restaurants have begun reaching out to. Thai Kitchen announced on Facebook the switch to take-out and delivery only, which has allowed regulars the opportunity to still patronize the popular East 12th Street eatery.
“It’s good, they’ve been good,” co-owner Napat Lai said. “It’s not that much business from usual. A lot of people come in and get take-out. That’s more of our business.”
Delivery hasn’t been the safety net for everyone. Cheese Barrel co-owner Myrna Gullion had to lay off two employees on Friday morning, cutting her staff down to just four people and herself. Because of the current limitations, she didn’t need a dishwasher or an additional server — and if they were needed she couldn’t afford them.
Cheese Barrel already dropped two days of operation and rolled hours back, closing at 2 p.m. every day instead of 4. She’s tried to implement the delivery services to keep the doors open but that experiment didn’t work.
“They screwed up the orders and don’t have our prices right,” Guillion stated. “We tried them before.”
So the downtown business is doing carry-out only. But she also said that with the current circumstances, the Cheese Barrel could be facing its end.
“One more week and I’ll close down,” she said. “I can’t afford to keep people on our payroll.”
The same is the case for Stan Fairbank, owner of the downtown Sandwich Bar. He tried to open for take-out and delivery but the build-your-own-sandwich atmosphere didn’t have enough appeal under new circumstances. On Friday morning he said that they were hoping Door Dash and Uber Foods would provide a lift. On Friday afternoon he informed the Star-Tribune that his establishment would join the likes of The Office Bar & Grill, Sherrie’s Place and The Gaslight Social as downtown Casper spots to close their doors at least until Gov. Gordon’s order lifts.
“I just know there’s been a fight to stay open,” Fairbank said.
VisitCasper announced a new take-out brand, Cowboy Curbside, on Friday afternoon to help local business stay operational and reach customers. At the time they had 38 businesses in Casper, Evansville and Mills advertising their take-out, delivery or curbside pick-up options.
“The whole goal is to serve the industry,” Amanda Cherlin of Visit Casper said. “If anyone needs help we encourage them to reach out and we’ll lend them a hand or connect them with who they need to connect with.”
They’ve even helped Metro Coffee Company advertise its new curbside ordering. Metro had always offered call-ahead ordering where customers could order ahead and pick up at the shop. Metro owner Sean Peverly developed a new website overnight to establish online ordering in addition to phone lines and Cowboy Curbside.
Peverly told the Star-Tribune that his popular business has already experienced a 50 percent drop. He’s ready to take that hit for the time being so long as he can break even between product costs and paying employees.
There was some good news for business owners Friday. Wyoming businesses are now eligible to apply for up to $2 million per company in federal economic disaster loans, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. The loans are designed to help businesses survive until normal operations resume.
Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @BradyOltmans
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