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Surviving the Pandemic

Jackie’s Restaurant Is Grateful for Customer Loyalty

By Joseph Montebello

So many businesses were challenged during this past year and continue to adjust to the pandemic environment. Restaurants, in particular, were forced to be in emergency mode, bowing to restricted hours and limited number of tables and patrons.

Jackie’s Restaurant has been a staple in Bantam for over thirty years. Serving breakfast and lunch, it has attracted scores of loyal patrons. It’s the combination of a casual, pleasant environment combined with comfort food that has made it a success. Then came the pandemic and everything changed.

“We were forced to shut down the restaurant and provide takeout only,” says Sarah Owens, who has owned the restaurant for 11 years. (And yes, once upon a time it was owned by someone named Jackie and the name just stuck.)

“We got the phone call about four days before we had to close,” Owens says. “I had just put in a huge food order and I kept thinking about how it would all go to waste. I was filled with fear and didn’t know what to do first.”

As soon as she was able, Owens set up for takeout and as the warmer weather came, put together an outdoor area in the parking lot, with umbrellas, tables, and chairs. Her landlord cut back on the rent for two months, which was a godsend and relieved some of the pressure.

“I had four full-time employees, one of them being my mother, and one part-time that I had to take care of,” says Owens. “Our cook left and so I took over the kitchen operation, which I am still doing.”

She recovered from the initial fear and has been operating at 60 percent capacity, mainly because she has not yet installed the required Plexiglas partitions.

“We can still have 50 people in the restaurant, which is working out for us.”

This seems to be the new normal and Owens is working within the necessary parameters, and with the adjustment has taken on a new attitude.

“We have had to rethink the way we do things,” she explains, “and we were pushed out of our comfort zone. As a single mom, I had to homeschool my daughter and take care of my mother. In the restaurant we are very conscious of sanitizing everything and trying to make people feel safe and cared for. We have created an online takeout menu to make it easier for people to order. And I think that social media has played an important part of keeping us connected to our clients and friends.”

With the warm weather upon us, outdoor seating at Jackie’s has resumed, the menu remains consistent, her daughter went back to school, Sarah’s in the kitchen, and all seems right with the world, in spite of the ongoing pandemic.

“We are all in this together,” says Owens, “and a huge thank you to everyone who has helped us through this trying time.”

Jackie’s Restaurant
920 Bantam Rd
860-567-0770

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