Indiana restaurants find ways to survive despite decline in business during stay-at-home order

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — All Indiana bars and restaurants were ordered to switch to carry out only over two weeks ago.

Some closed completely until the ban is over, and others decided to give carry out and delivery a try. That includes The Tap on Mass Ave in downtown Indianapolis.

The Tap offers growler fill ups and food pick ups. Business has been better than expected, but it’s still not the same.

“It’s been okay, a lot less business than previously,” said Chris Martin, director of operations for Finney Hospitality Group, which owns The Tap.

“If you’re in this business, you’re in the business because you kinda throw a party every day,” Martin said. “You get to have people in and hear stories and have fun. That’s not what’s going on inside The Tap anymore.”

Besides managers, all of The Tap’s hourly employees have been furloughed. The few businesses left open on Mass Ave are just trying to get by.

“The goal is to be able to not necessarily make money because nobody is going to make money in this environment, but at least break even and keep the doors open so we can employ as many people as possible safely,” said Joe Kahn, the founder and CEO of Condado Tacos.

Condado has 15 locations open throughout the county, including locations in Broad Ripple and on Mass Ave. They’ve had to furlough about half their employees so far, and have started offering meal deals and even a make your own margarita mix.

They also started their own delivery service to make sure people who need food at home can get it, and as many employees as possible remain on the payroll.

“As long as we can do this as safely as we possibly can, we feel like it is a service to people,” Kahn said.

As far as unique ideas, Sahm’s Restaurants have switched to a grocery store model, selling bread and produce along with other items. Sahm’s owns multiple Sahm’s locations and Big Lug Canteen, along with Half Liter BBQ.

“We’re hearing what our guests are saying and adjusting on the fly, and I think that the list is getting better,” said Co- Owner Eddie Sahm. “People are being able to buy groceries directly from us and not needing to go to other locations.”

The marketplace has allowed Sahm’s to bring back 40 full-time employees. However, it’s still not the same.

“It’s still a big downturn, there’s no way to cut it there,” Sahm said. “I mean, pint sales and appetizers and drinks and desserts, all that stuff adds up. So as far as our usual revenues in a week, we’re still down 70% to 80%.”

For now, these businesses are doing what they can to get by. They’re trying to hold on to as many customers and employees as they can while safely getting food to people who need it.

“Everybody is banding together and trying to figure out how to survive through this and do the right thing,” Martin said.

To take a look at Sahm’s Marketplace menu and to place an order, click HERE.

For a list of which restaurants currently offer carry out and deliver, click HERE.

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