This is the third story in a series called “Back and Better Than Ever”. Business Editor Tracey Porpora will profile business owners who have survived the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and modified services or product offerings that have helped their operations come back even stronger than they are were not previously.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Chris Lacey – owner of Lacey’s Bridge Tavern in Elm Park for over 17 years – quickly pivoted in March 2020 to take-out and delivery services when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic closed all state enterprises.
However, Lacey was surprised that the restaurant and tavern – known for serving great family-style Italian dishes, as well as popular items like pierogies, meatloaf, and kielbasa – fared well with take-out orders. .
“We have always had a menu for catering, like half pots and full pots. And with our oversized regular entrees – due to the family style – the take out went smoothly. People were placing large orders and knew they would have food for a few days, ”he recalls.
And it helped his employees get involved to make the effort work.
“The staff were very open to bartenders who become delivery people, and of course, the kitchen [workers] wanted to keep working, ”Lacey said, noting that the restaurant only had to close for two weeks during the pandemic.
“We only closed for two weeks because we were being too careful – a relative of one of the employees got sick, so we closed everything for two weeks to make sure everyone was okay and then we went back. . … We’ve kept everyone employed, so now we’re not scrambling for staff like some places are now, ”he added.
Even now, when the restaurant / tavern can be opened at full capacity, Lacey has decided to continue with delivery services – which he did not offer before the global health crisis – as delivery was successful during the pandemic.
A SECOND PIVOT
Once al fresco dining was cleared, Lacey pivoted again to make this situation work while meeting all COVID mandates. He built an outdoor space that can be heated in the winter.
“We have built an outdoor space of around 60 seats,” he said. “We installed a high-end metal awning. … We have added heating, big screen TV, music and lighting. And it worked well. “
NEW PERMANENT OPTIONS
And it continues to work well. So much so that alfresco dining with entertainment will be a permanent option at the restaurant, Lacey said.
While Lacey’s Tavern has always offered live music for its Sunday brunch menu, Lacey has now decided to add performances on certain Friday nights, he said.
“We now have private parties outside as well. … We also organize all-inclusive brunches for events, such as baptisms and showers. … We didn’t have this before the pandemic, ”Lacey said.
“We have that extra space now, and we also have heat for the winter, so we should be able to use it all year round to some extent. We also do a lobster night on Thursdays and a Happy Hour with a raw sea bass with clams, prawns and oysters at a reduced price. So people like to sit outside to get that stuff; it’s like a trip to the shore.
For these reasons, Lacey is confident that take-out / delivery services and new outdoor seating, born out of the pandemic, are sure to boost her business in the future. He said he also hopes the catering part of his business picks up speed now that the holidays are back.
“We have organized events at Flagship Brewery. … We have had pre-game parties at Giants Stadium and we have taken care of a lot of Staten Island venues that don’t have their own food service, ”he explained.
Lacey said he was also grateful to his loyal customers, who have supported his restaurant throughout the pandemic.
“I just think everyone wants to go out now. They are dying to socialize, ”Lacey said.
“Business has picked up as a percentage; people seem eager to have fun. You know that the people of the north coast of Staten Island are very supportive. They did rock well during the delivery process during the pandemic. They are loyal, and now they can come back. … People are looking for their usual servers; they know what nights they are working. So dining at Lacey’s Bridge Tavern has become a regular thing again, ”he added.
If you own a Staten Island business that had to change course during the pandemic or came back stronger, please email Tracey Porpora at [email protected] be considered for a story.
MORE IN THE SERIES:
Back and better than ever: Killmeyer’s returns to its family-style German roots
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