“I think part of what many restaurants are going through,” Baylis said, “is that not only are they trying to get by day to day, but some are thinking hard about what the future looks like. I’ve talked to some restaurant owners who are thinking about having fewer tables to maintain spacing even after the virus.”
Some restaurants with common owners are combining resources to produce a scaled-back shared menu while also adding larger family-style portions they don’t normally offer. The Brick Store and Leon’s Full Service are offering takeout at Leon’s, while Universal Joint and Steinbeck’s are merging forces at U-Joint.
According to the National Restaurant Association 30,000 restaurants nationally have already closed permanently and that number will swell to 110,000 by next month.
Baylis says that to date only one restaurant within Decatur city limits, the Smoothie King on West Ponce de Leon Avenue, has told her they’re closing for good. But she also believes that as a national chain closure plans predates the pandemic. The Square Pub, an admired hangout particularly for after-hours restaurant folks, closed last month after 10 years in business, but that closure preceded the COVID-19’s first full tidal wave.
Baylis reports that in fact two new restaurants are planning to open in the near future: a barbecue restaurant (still unnamed) in the Old Depot District next to Kelly’s Market, and Ponko Chicken, an Asian fried chicken restaurant in the former Steel City Pops space.