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Small Restaurants Struggle One Week Into Dine-in Shutdown

SANDY, Utah — Amid efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and one week after Governor Gary Herbert issued a “no dine-in” order, small, local restaurants have reported falling sales.

“I hope we can get through this,” said Daniel Yuswadi, owner of MakanMakan in Sandy. “This is all we have. We put everything here in one basket.”

For two years, Yuswadi has seen success at his Indonesian restaurant. But in just one week, he said business has dropped about 80%.

As state leaders continue to put out the call to take extra precautions to stay healthy and slow the spread of the coronavirus, takeout and delivery options just haven’t been enough to make up for social distancing. And his business isn’t alone.

“This is the time more than ever to support your local restaurants,” said Indu Sudhakar, co-owner of Chefpanzee, a local food delivery service that works especially with dozens of small ethnic restaurants across Salt Lake County. She said takeout and delivery are “honestly the only lifeline that a lot of these restaurants have right now.”

Sudhakar believed chain restaurants will survive this okay, but she was experiencing firsthand the financial toll the virus is taking on small businesses. Many of their partners have already closed their doors. Others, like MakanMakan, are fighting to survive.

“Seeing that they’re giving themselves one-week deadlines to see if they can stay in business through delivery or takeout and then shut down after that…It’s pretty heartbreaking,” she said.

Chefpanzee is hoping to help relieve some of the pressure on small restaurants, charging them much less than competitors like DoorDash and giving customers the option to donate directly to restaurants.

“We have folks who are placing 15 orders and leaving 20 donations and 10 tips for their drivers. And that’s Utah,” Sudhakar said, adding she hopes to see more of that in the days and weeks ahead.

Back at MakanMakan, Yuswadi is determined to keep his place virus free. The visible Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer don’t tell half the story. He goes so far as to check himself and his employees with a thermometer gun every day before going into work.

“We will get through this together. Together,” he said, cautiously optimistic the downpour will end and they will come out on top.


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

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