COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Restaurant Week in The District in downtown Columbia began Monday, and local restaurants say the event could help boost businesses for the industry during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Nickie Davis with the District said restaurants are still being impacted by the pandemic while only being able to serve people at half capacity.
"A majority of them are far less than that capacity because we still need to factor in the six-foot distancing which means that some of them are at 20% capacity," Davis said. "That doesn't mean that their utilities went down 20%. That doesn't mean their rent went down 20%. That means their income and their normal profitability is down almost 80%."
The District has not received any CARES Act funding but is looking at applying for some in the future.
This year the District is using a bingo-style card that can be printed online and passwords so people will not have to eat in to get an entry. Each time someone gets a password, which are typically printed on receipts, they can fill it out in one of the squares on the cards and that is equal to an entry. Participants will have the chance to win $100 worth of gift cards.
Davis said this will allow people who may not be comfortable eating inside of a restaurant to still participate.
Kalle LeMone is co-owner of Nourish Cafe and Market and services on the board of the Downtown Community Improvement District. Nourish Cafe and Market has participated in every Restaurant Week.
LeMone said the event creates a boom in business for the restaurants downtown.
"It just brings a little bit of a buzz and then maybe when we're talking to our customers about it then they are like, 'OK, well maybe I'll go another place downtown to eat this week too or try something new,'" she said.
LeMone said local restaurants are depending on the community to get through the pandemic.
"We really are depending on our community and depending on one another to make it through this," she said. " And we want our favorite places to be there whenever it's all opened back up again."
Matt Jenne is co-owner of Addison's in the District. The restaurant also participates in the event each year.
Jenne said he hopes the event can provide a sense of normalcy for people.
"One thing I think restaurants offer right now is a moment for people to get out of their house and have that moment of normalcy," he said. "So hopefully people are safe and they're wearing masks and we're social distancing but they can sit down and have a nice meal and feel like things are a little more normal."
He said the event benefits other businesses within The District as well.
"I think that's a great thing about our District and our downtown area is that it is a destination for people. This is the type of place where people want to go walk around and really find a nice restaurant to eat at, maybe do some shopping, and Restaurant Week really kind of brings all that together," Jenne said.
Both Jenne and Davis said the changes to the health order that allows restaurants and bars to stay open until midnight have also benefited businesses, and they expect that to help during Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week will continue through Sunday Feb. 28th.