For Ryan McFadden, who owns the neighboring Flatbread Social and Henry Street Taproom in Saratoga Springs, business continues to be a challenge even after being cleared to reopen at 50 percent capacity.
“It is hard enough to keep a restaurant open when there is not a global pandemic, especially in this town with the number of competing restaurants there are,” McFadden said Friday. “It is almost impossible, with restaurants you need a lot of people in there, it is a small bites business, you don’t make that much money off of a cheeseburger, you’ve got to sell a lot of them.”
“We are still probably only doing about 40 percent of what we would’ve been doing last year, it is a struggle with where we are at right now,” Liz Swoyer said.
Further down Henry Street, Swoyer and her husband own Scallions Restaurant.
After weeks of urging city leaders, the business owners were relieved to learn Friday that they received clearance to shut down one lane of the road and expand their seating onto the sidewalk.
“One table, three tables, 10 tables, it doesn’t matter, to add tables would be a huge help,” Swoyer said.
“I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes the bottom line, how much we can pay people, how much staff we can support,” McFadden said. “It really is a huge game changer.”
The reversal from city officials came hours after Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus staged a sit-in in front of City Hall.
“Part of the miscommunication that’s taken place between City Hall and the business owners and employees is that they haven’t been able to sit down and meet face-to-face,” Shimkus said. “I decided to get that out of the way and say come on outside and meet with me and say let’s figure this out.”
“I give him a lot of props,” Swoyer said. “Todd has been an amazing mentor and a great cheerleader for everyone in this community.”
With that hurdle cleared and the expanded outside seating set to begin early next week, the Spa City business owners and leaders hope it’s enough to get them through the season.
“If they don’t make money this summer, they might not make it through the winter,” Shimkus said. “We have got to make sure in July and August that they are able to expand their customer base as much as possible.”
“It’s a great day, I am happy,” McFadden said. “I woke up stressed out and now I am in a good mood.”