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Restaurants try to figure out how to stay operating amid COVID-19 pandemic

Damien Watel, Bistr09
Damien Watel, Bistr09 (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – During the COVID-19 pandemic people are starting to feel the financial burden. As such, small businesses and local restaurants are making changes to stay open and help keep employees on the payroll.

“It’s about adapting to the takeout business, so I’m constantly looking for new containers or new things to use,” Damien Watel, chef and owner of Bistr09, said.

Watel said the first big hit that his restaurant felt actually came on their one-year anniversary.

“We had 200 people coming over, and, of course, that was canceled,” Watel said.

Now, with the dine-in option taken off the table, Watel had to adjust the menu, shift the schedule and change the hours, but still there are challenges.

“I completely curved the business all the way down to about 10 percent and now that’s probably what we hover with takeout,” Watel said.

There are 35 employees on the payroll, and it is getting tougher seemingly every day.

“We made the last payroll and we had the cash last time, but there’s another one coming this Friday, which might be a little more complicated even though we’ve operated on a reduced schedule,” Watel said.

And, of course health precautions are a top priority.

“We already had gloves, we already had cleaning products,” Watel said.

On top of those precautions, Bistro9 also goes above and beyond using a UV light, waving it over all takeout orders.

“We use a UV wand on every item to make sure that you know you might get it but you won’t get it from us,” Watel said.

Chef Damien is hoping that the stimulus package will help his restaurant and other small businesses, but there are still some long-term questions.

“They don’t really know, we don’t really know, how long this is going to effect business,” Watel said.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

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