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C.O. restaurateurs juggle serious challenges amid state COVID-19 limits

Say take-out and delivery revenue is not enough to keep them in business

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In less than a week, some Bend restaurants have seen business plunge sharply since Gov. Kate Brown ordered a restriction that restaurants offer take-out, drive-thru and delivery only -- no dining in.

But it's not just dine-in food places taking a hit. The Orange Mama fruit stand in southwest Bend is no exception.

Co-owner Diana Franko told NewsChannel 21 Thursday she has stopped putting boxes of oranges and produce out on the stands. Instead, she will grab them from inside the truck, at customers’ request.

“The fruit stands close down in the wintertime, so we had to make a decision as being the only one open and the only one to face this right now,” Franko said.

The outbreak spread so quickly, restaurants are now having to juggle attracting and meeting the needs of their customers and taking care of their employees.

We also spoke with Juan Moreno, the owner of Super Burrito in downtown Bend. He said he’s owned the business for the past 25 years, after his father passed it down to him.

“My concern is mainly I would have to cut hours from my employees -- and if this keeps going, I might have to get rid of some of them,” Moreno said. “I don’t want to do that, because I know they have to pay bills too, like me.”

He said he only has three full-time employees, and they are like family.

“It’s only the first week, and we already felt the hit big-time,” Moreno said. “I mean, God knows what’s going to happen in the eight weeks they say this is going to last. I hope we’re going to survive those eight weeks.”

"Yesterday, I gave up, but today, I’m back."

Eric Rud, co-owner of Boxwood Kitchen & Supper Club

NewsChannel 21 also met with Eric Rud, the co-owner of Boxwood Kitchen & Supper Club in the Old Mill District. 

Rud said since the restrictions took effect earlier this week, the company is now giving all of its proceeds back to their employees.

“We’re going to get them all over here and write everyone a check. So that’s the plan,” Rud said. “I think it’s tough, because they’re the ones that are going to get hit the hardest. It’s the low-hanging fruit. These people don’t have a lot of options.”

Moreno and Rud are just two of the many business owners in Bend trying to make sure their employees not only stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak, but also can continue providing for their families.

“We’ve been here for 25 years, and we’ve known most of our customers since they were teenagers,” Moreno said. “Now they’re coming in with their sons and families. So it’s been a wonderful 25 years, and we just want to keep going.”

Rud said it’s been a rough couple of days since Gov. Brown’s order. Still, he’s optimistic about how people respond to the changes.

“I think sometimes in the face of adversity, you can either rise up or just totally give up,” Rud said. “Yesterday, I gave up, but today, I’m back.”

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.


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