‘It’s going to be extremely difficult to recover from this’: Bars, restaurants deal with statewide closure

State Street empty

MADISON, Wis. – Bars and restaurants have closed their doors following an order from Gov. Tony Evers to shut down dine-in services at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The announcement came on the afternoon of a usually busy holiday.

“State St., it’s empty,” said Dino Christ, owner of Nick’s Bar & Restaurant, adding that on most St. Patrick’s Days, that’s a different story.

“We would be full,” Christ said. “We run a corned beef and cabbage special. Lunch and dinner would’ve been packed.”

Instead, Christ and other owners were preparing to close for an undetermined amount of time.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “I don’t think anyone has.”

“You can’t plan for this,” said Joe Perkins, owner of Tutto Pasta just down State St. “Insurance doesn’t cover it.”

Like Christ, Perkins understands and wasn’t surprised by the statewide closures. He’s planning to shift to takeout orders and try delivery for the first time, which are both still allowed.

“My staff, of course, we’ve cut down a lot because we have to, but the more takeouts we can do, the more people we can keep at work. We’re hoping to keep staff as long as we can employed as long as we can without going on unemployment to keep business going,” Perkins said. “It stinks for everybody down here now.”

Christ will be giving carryout orders a try at Nick’s over the next two weeks, as well, while working to keep a positive attitude through all the unknowns.

“I don’t want to put anyone in harm’s way. I’m going to do what the government tells me to do and what’s best for the people, as well,” Christ said. “I hope, though, that the government understands that small businesses like myself, without some sort of aid or bailout, it’s going to be extremely difficult to recover from this.”

Food Fight Restaurant Group is furloughing about 750 employees following the restaurant restrictions.