Tuesday marks a week since Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak urged residents of the state to stay home for two weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. Among its requests, residents of Nevada were asked to choose “to go out for dinner on the curb at your favorite restaurant instead of sitting inside with other people who are not members of your household.” .
So, does Las Vegans heed his advice? It depends on who you ask, but most local restaurateurs contacted by the Review-Journal on Monday reported a decline in restaurant activity since the governor’s press conference.
“We actually saw a huge drop,” says Bianca Alenik, whose family owns the Pasta Shop Ristorante in Henderson. “As soon as he made that announcement, we saw a huge setback.”
At Americana in the community of Desert Shores, director Michael Avakian reports a similar decline in activity.
“After he made his announcement, we saw a drop in bookings and walk-in business,” Avakian said.
He estimates the drop at around 30 percent. That’s the same number cited by Evan Glusman, whose family-run restaurant Piero’s recently reopened with limited hours.
“For Thursday, Friday and Saturday I was at 30 percent,” says Glusman. “And thank goodness we had a little convention (in town), where it probably would’ve been over 50 or 60 percent.”
For Donald Contursi, whose company Lip Smacking Foodie Tours offers guided and self-guided restaurant tours, the setback comes just as things were starting to return to normal.
“Reservations were definitely increasing,” he explains of the weeks leading up to the governor’s plea. “People became more confident when they booked their trip to Vegas. They were starting to feel comfortable that Vegas is open for business. And then from the moment of the announcement, you could definitely see a stop in reservations. “
Divide the party
However, not everyone has experienced a decline in activity. Several neighborhood spots are reporting business as usual over the past week. And Lola Pokorny, owner of two Lola locations, says after an initial slowdown she actually saw a small spike in bookings.
“It was very, very quiet Wednesday,” Pokorny said. “Thursday looked like we were having a normal day. Then on Friday we had a slight increase in business, simply because (other) restaurants were canceling customer reservations, which is unheard of.
She says several clients came to see her after canceling reservations for their large groups at other companies who were unwilling or unable to split larger groups into smaller, socially distant tables after the governor’s order. At Lola’s, she is happy to sit a family of eight at two tables for four, as long as they are 6 feet apart.
Prepare for a stop
The governor’s call to “Stay Home 2.0” is aimed at avoiding mandatory restrictions on restaurants and other businesses. But even some restaurateurs whose businesses have not yet been affected believe further action is inevitable.
“I’m already counting on its closure and rollback,” says Sam Marvin, owner of Echo & Rig at Tivoli Village, adding that he hasn’t seen any change in bookings or customer behavior since last Tuesday. . “Not that I’m for or against either side. But just looking at the numbers, it feels like, based on what everyone else is doing (in other states), he won’t have a choice.
Natalie Young, who operates downtown restaurants Eat and Old Soul, says whatever the next decision is, she’s just hoping to get a little notice.
“I’d rather he say ‘In two weeks we’re going to shut it down.’ This gives small businesses time to prepare. We need a minute to figure out what we’re going to do with our food, go to all the sidewalks, whatever we need to do. “
Leticia Mitchell, who operates Leticia’s at Santa Fe Station and Letty’s on Main Street, agrees that advance notice of any rule changes is vital for troubled restaurants. Not knowing what will happen, or when, has forced her to add another layer to emergency plans to avoid being stuck with perishables.
“Obviously Plan A is that we keep moving forward as is and follow all guidelines. Plan B really puts the emphasis on our curbside orders and family packages, which we did really well on the first stop. But then Plan C keeps inventory as low as possible, because if there is another shutdown it was a huge and major loss (last time), and hopefully that’s not something that we will have to endure again. “
At Honey Salt, owner Elizabeth Blau hopes officials at all levels of government realize that another shutdown, without a plan to help affected restaurants, could be devastating.
“We cannot continue to have this mentality of continuing to close without a stimulus package,” said Blau. “It’s so irresponsible what they do with people’s work and life savings. “