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Small restaurants struggle 1 week into dine-in shutdown

By Matt Rascon, KSL TV | Posted - Mar. 24, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.


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SANDY — Amid efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and one week after Governor Gary Herbert issued a “no dine-in” order, small, local restaurants have reported falling sales.

“I hope we can get through this,” said Daniel Yuswadi, owner of MakanMakan in Sandy. “This is all we have. We put everything here in one basket.”

For two years, Yuswadi has seen success at his Indonesian restaurant. But in just one week, he said business has dropped about 80%.

As state leaders continue to put out the call to take extra precautions to stay healthy and slow the spread of the coronavirus, takeout and delivery options just haven’t been enough to make up for social distancing. And his business isn’t alone.

“This is the time more than ever to support your local restaurants,” said Indu Sudhakar, co-owner of Chefpanzee, a local food delivery service that works especially with dozens of small ethnic restaurants across Salt Lake County. She said takeout and delivery are “honestly the only lifeline that a lot of these restaurants have right now.”

Sudhakar believed chain restaurants will survive this okay, but she was experiencing firsthand the financial toll the virus is taking on small businesses. Many of their partners have already closed their doors. Others, like MakanMakan, are fighting to survive.

“Seeing that they’re giving themselves one-week deadlines to see if they can stay in business through delivery or takeout and then shut down after that…It’s pretty heartbreaking,” she said.

Chefpanzee is hoping to help relieve some of the pressure on small restaurants, charging them much less than competitors like DoorDash and giving customers the option to donate directly to restaurants.

“We have folks who are placing 15 orders and leaving 20 donations and 10 tips for their drivers. And that’s Utah,” Sudhakar said, adding she hopes to see more of that in the days and weeks ahead.

Back at MakanMakan, Yuswadi is determined to keep his place virus free. The visible Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer don’t tell half the story. He goes so far as to check himself and his employees with a thermometer gun every day before going into work.

“We will get through this together. Together,” he said, cautiously optimistic the downpour will end and they will come out on top.

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