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Checking in: Siouxland restaurants credit customer support during COVID-19 crisis

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- Restaurants across Iowa took a hit last week when Governor Kim Reynolds mandated they close for dine-in guests.

Many quickly adapted, changing the way they deliver food to their customers.

"This was something new for all of us," said Rick Dominowski owner of Townhouse Pizza & Lounge as well as Wheelhouse Bar and Grill. "None of us have been through this before."

It's uncharted territory. That's the best way, restaurant owners said they can describe this situation. Many, quickly implementing pick-up or delivery services.

"So really it's just been about transitioning over from having people in our restaurant, sitting in our seats, but allowing them now to simply stop by and pick up their orders to go," said Rod Wellman of Marto Brewing.

Wellman said people can now get beer and nearly the entire Marto Brewing menu to go and a lot of people did just that, last Friday and Saturday.

"It's been a good level of support," said Wellman. "Obviously it's nowhere near what our sales were before all of this happened because we aren't packing an entire restaurant with 100 or so folks at one time, but we are doing the best we can and trying to make it work."

Rick Dominowski said he had to quickly react last week as well. He owns Townhouse Pizza and Lounge and Wheelhouse Bar and Grill.

"It's been a challenge," said Dominowski. "It's been an obstacle, but I think you know, we are actually, we're coming through it. We're doing ok."

Dominowski said one of his biggest fears is that these closures will continue and the impact that could have on his business and his employees.

"I mean a lot of people in our industry work paycheck to paycheck and a lot of our servers, they depend on tips and they are sitting at home right now, not working," said Dominowski.

But, he said he understands why the closures are needed.

He said the bright spot during this challenging time has been seeing the community come together which is something that is critical for small businesses.

"You know there are a couple of Facebook groups that have been started out there," said Dominowski. "There's a couple of guys that started them and we are grateful for that too because they've really helped get the community together. The nice thing is, I think people are trying restaurants that they haven't tried before."

Business owners said they're in it for the long haul. So if that means operating this way for the next two to three weeks or two to three months, that's what they are going to do.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has mandated restaurants across Iowa remain closed for dine-in guests until 11:59 the night of March 31st.

Wellman and Dominowski said they hope to soon see guests back in their dining area seats.

Click here for the latest news and information on the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Michaela Feldmann

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