In West Chester, local restaurant owners and managers are offering a new perspective to the effects of COVID-19.
Manager Ashley Kane looks to make a splash on Gay St. with the opening of Stove and Co., a local bar and restaurant franchise that has opened its third restaurant in West Chester. With less than a month of being open, Kane could not have been more positive with how things are going.
“Business has been great! Obviously this was a tough year for everybody but we are very fortunate to be surrounded by communities that truly supported us during this entire pandemic.” Kane said. “We have made the most of a year nobody saw coming and we have our guests to thank for that.“
While many restaurants around the country have struggled to stay afloat, Kane and the team at Stove and Co. have embraced the opening despite being in the middle of the pandemic.
“We actually feel that this was the best time to open! Reduced capacity and no bar allows us to have a softer opening and gives us the space to create and shape our brand slowly and with intention. This year brought a lot of lessons and a huge one for us as a company was to slow down and to pivot through all the changes. We can’t do much about the restrictions, so instead we are using this time to really focus on how we can be better rather than how we can be busier. “
Other restaurant managers in the area spoke along the same lines as Kane. Ryan Vickers, a manager at Kildare’s, a local pub and community staple in town, said the pandemic has served as a benefit in some ways.
“The food requirement brought on by the state really helped our kitchen staff.” Vickers said. “Customers were able to realize we were a bar and restaurant, not just a place to grab drinks.”
Vickers added the restrictions from the pandemic served as a push for the staff to be more creative in planning. With events coming up, Vickers is excited and hopeful that the new ideas can ensure safety and still be fun for the locals.
“With St. Patrick’s day coming up, we have one of our biggest events and we worked hard to think about what we can do to still celebrate.” Vickers said. “So this year we are going to have live music, but with plexiglass surrounding the stage to protect the band as well as our customers.”
Both Vickers and Kane agreed that with the rollout of vaccines they expect restrictions to be lifted sooner than later, which will allow them to bring in more customers. But for now they are making the best out of the situation and excited to see what the future holds for restaurants and small businesses in town.