By: Ryan Gutierrez
As restaurants continue to feel the effects of COVID-19, many have buoyed businesses by selling produce, groceries, and family meals to stay financially afloat.
Shane Bothwell, Assistant General Manager of Old Town Junction, was quick to patch the holes.
“We had to completely revamp our whole business model,” Bothwell explained. “To completely transition from a full bar, kitchen, patio-dining experience to strictly takeout was a drastic change.”
The pressure of state-wide social distancing regulations forced the Newhall restaurant to drastically reduce his staff from forty to seven total employees.
“That’s been the hardest and most unfortunate thing in this whole situation has been having to let go of all our hourly employees, and keeping the salary workers,” Bothwell lamented.
Although short staffed, Bothwell and his team continue to persevere alongside their community and the restaurant.
Bothwell and Executive Chef and Co-Owner Daniel Auto, quickly remodeled the menu to provide easy access produce, groceries, and specially curated family meals.
“We started a kind of a market menu that we do daily, with fresh produce, poultry, milk, eggs, things that people need to survive,” Bothwell said.
Local resident Robin Castagnola became a loyal consumer after she discovered the restaurant’s options.
“I was struggling to find eggs in the grocery store so my coworker said to check out the junction, they’re selling eggs” explained Castagnola, “ since then I bought my eggs there and now I get some of my fresh fruit and vegetables too.”
The restaurant’s social media presence on Instagram and Facebook has attracted plenty of new customers and positive feedback.
“It’s really inspiring to see that support from all of our regular guests and people who have never been here who have seen our posts,” said Bothwell.
With more customers, Bothwell strives to flatten the curve by imposing strict precautionary safety measures.
“New uniforms, gloves, have a mask on at all times, we are sanitizing everything,” affirmed Bothwell. “We have four stations all 6 feet apart in case someone comes in without a mask.”
In these new and unpredictable times, Bothwell is highly motivated and optimistic that the community and the restaurant can get through this slump.
“It’s a whole different flow of business, it’s just being creative and adapting to the times, and hopefully it’s not too much longer, and hopefully we’re already halfway through this whole thing.”
And while unorthodox, just last week, the county Department of Public Health released those new guidelines, allowing restaurants in the county to add grocery items to their menus for purchase as part of their delivery, takeout or curbside services.
Nicholas Murphy, Mark Singzon, and Inderjeet Gawra also contributed to this story