Topeka restaurants taking financial hit during COVID-19

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Topeka businesses are adjusting to an emergency order from the Shawnee County Health Department as they try to stay open and in-business during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, an emergency order went into effect for all bars, restaurants, and movie theaters in Shawnee County, only allowing restaurant to serve customers though carry out or delivery.

Some local business owners said their sales have already slowed down, but expect them to slow down even more with this new order.

Taco Al’s has been in Topeka for nearly 60 years. Since the coronavirus pandemic started, owner Alan Ward says they’ve been short hundreds of dollars each day.

“Having been here so long, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs with different things,” Ward said. “But I think this is probably the more severe problems we’ve ever encountered.”

With dining out now the only option, he said they might have to close an hour earlier because no one’s been coming in.

is another locally owned business taking a hit. Owner Debbie Maichel said they shortened their hours last week to do extra cleaning, which cut their usual sales in half.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. You know, I have two of my children that depend on it. And like I said all these college students,” Maichel said. “It’s going to hurt financially a lot.”

They’re offering carry out specials if you call a day in advance. Each order must purchase a minimum of three burgers.

Engroff catering said they are feeling similar financial stress. Last week they had 42 employees, and after necessary layoffs, they now only have 5.

Rosie Newman, the company’s general manager, said it doesn’t feel real.

“Two weeks ago, everybody’s well being and their home life and everything was fine and now everything is just turned upside down,” Newman said.

With nothing scheduled until the end of May, she said they’ll decide by the end of the week if they have to make any more layoffs.

For a list of restaurants and bars offering takeout options, click here.

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