3 years after first COVID-19 shutdown, UP restaurants react to how industry has changed

Both restaurants credit their staff and customers for helping them stay afloat.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:30 PM EDT
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UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - Restaurants are still seeing the impact of COVID-19, three years after the first shutdown.

The food industry was one of the many professions impacted by the pandemic.

A new ownership group took over the Holiday Kitchen in Iron Mountain right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill Neuen’s Enterprises Operations Manager Cameron O’Connor said it was a huge transition.

“We jumped right into the deep end. We learned about product supply, staffing, all of it we had to figure out,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said the restaurant still faces supply chain issues when trying to make capital improvements.

“We did order some large bay windows,” O’Connor explained. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with the product supply chain issue still, and those windows have been on backorder for quite some time. We are still in that work-in-progress, but we are never quite done yet making sure that it is the best experience for all of our guests.”

O’Connor said new light bulbs just arrived Tuesday after being on backorder for nearly four months. Despite consistent obstacles, he is optimistic about the future of the restaurant.

“We are still open seven days a week, and we did just bring back breakfast Monday through Fridays, so we open at 8 in the morning,” O’Connor said.

In downtown Marquette, Third Coast Pizzeria has faced similar challenges but has not had to change its hours.

“After the dramatic drop-off of business when COVID first started, it has slowly been trickling back, but it has definitely not reached the same volume it was before COVID hit,” said Bryan French, Third Coast Pizzeria owner.

French said he has changed cleaning policies because of the pandemic.

“We changed our cleaners,” French explained. “We use bleach now instead of quad-sanitizer because bleach is more effective. It is rougher on your equipment, but more effective at keeping things clean.”

Both restaurants credit their staff and customers for helping them stay afloat.