'We didn’t expect it to hit this hard,' said Manager Robert Evans.
Two months ago, before the pandemic, Alfie’s Restaurant, at 1666 Ocean Shore Blvd., employed 45-50 people. Last week, it was down to just three: Manager Robert Evans and his parents, Greg and Dina. The others were let go.
While in a sense that felt like “back to basics” for the family-owned restaurant, “they were definitely some rough times,” Evans said. “We didn’t expect it to hit this hard.”
After the state approved 25% capacity for dining areas, another two people were hired back, and that has allowed for eight tables — spaced at least 6 feet apart — to serve customers.
The wait staff and kitchen staff wear masks. Pens, chairs and condiment bottles are sanitized between every customer.
“We are doing everything we can to make people more comfortable,” Evans said.
Adjusting to the demand, the restaurant offers smaller portions to make meals less expensive; it also offers fewer menu items, adjusting on the supply side. For example, instead of five types of fish, Evans only serves two, to limit the risk of having to throw anything away if it’s not sold quickly enough.
Takeout is still available, he said, in addition to the dine-in option.
“We’re slowly ramping back up to normal,” Evans said. “As soon as we can, we’ll bring in more servers.”
Alfie’s does not deliver food, but there are ways to get food to customers. Some delivery services send in staff to pick up food, and they they charge customers a fee. Alfie’s also has a deal with Bite Squad, which splits the delivery charge with Alfie’s, and customers don’t pay any extra.
Future of dining out
How long will social distancing be a requirement? No one knows, and that makes it difficult to plan for the future in the restaurant business.
“Everything’s changing day to day, and I hope that people will still feel comfortable going out, because I think it’s something in our culture to go out and eat and relax,” Evans said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to provide that experience for people.”