This is the third story in a series called Back and Better Than Ever. Business writer Tracey Porpora will portray business owners who have survived the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and changed services or product offerings that have helped their businesses return even stronger than before.
STATE ISLAND, NY – Chris Lacey – owner of Lacey’s Bridge Tavern in Elm Park for more than 17 years – quickly switched to pickup and delivery services in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) shut down all businesses across the state.
However, Lacey was surprised that the restaurant and tavern – known for serving great Italian family dishes as well as popular items like pierogi, meatloaf, and keelbasa – were well received by take-away orders.
“We always had a menu for catering, like half pans and full pans. And since our regular starters were oversized due to the family style, it went well for takeout. People placed large orders and knew they had something to eat for a few days, ”he recalls.
And it helped that his employees lend a hand to make the effort work.
“The staff was very open to the bartenders who became deliverers and of course the kitchen [workers] wanted to keep working, ”said Lacey, noting that the restaurant only had to close for two weeks during the pandemic.
“We only closed for two weeks because we were overly cautious – an employee’s relative got sick, so we just closed everything for two weeks to make sure everyone was fine and then we went back to it. … We have kept everyone busy so we are not recruiting as we are in some places now, ”he added.
Even now, while the restaurant / tavern can be open at full capacity, Lacey has decided to continue delivery services – which he did not offer prior to the global health crisis – as delivery was a success during the pandemic.
A SECOND PIVOT
Once al fresco dining was allowed, Lacey turned again to make this situation work while still meeting all COVID mandates. He built an outdoor area that can be heated in winter.
“We built an outdoor area with about 60 seats,” he said. “We installed a high-end awning made of metal. … We added warmth, a big screen TV, music and lighting. And it worked out well. “
NEW PERMANENT OPTIONS
And it continues to work well. Alfresco dining with entertainment will be a permanent option inside the eatery, Lacey said.
While Lacey’s Tavern has always had live music for its Sunday brunch menu, Lacey has now decided to add performances on some Friday evenings, he said.
“We now have private parties outside too. … we also do all inclusive brunch parties for events like baptisms and showers. … We didn’t have that before the pandemic, ”said Lacey.
“We have that extra space now and we also have warmth for winter so we should be able to use it in some way all year round. We also host a lobster night and happy hour on Thursdays with a raw food bar with mussels, prawns and oysters at discounted prices. So people enjoy sitting outside and getting the stuff; it’s like a trip to the shore. “
For these reasons, Lacey is confident that take-away / delivery services and new outdoor seating that emerged from the pandemic are sure to boost his business in the future. He said he also hopes the catering part of his business is picking up steam now that the parties are back.
“We held events in the Flagship Brewery. … We held tailgate parties at Giants Stadium and hosted many venues on Staten Island that didn’t have their own catering, ”he explained.
Lacey said he was also grateful to his loyal customers who supported his eatery during the pandemic.
“I think everyone wants out now. They really wanted to socialize, ”said Lacey.
“The business has increased in percentage terms; People seem in a hurry to have fun. They know the people on the north coast of Staten Island are very supportive. They tipped well during the delivery process in the pandemic. You are loyal and can come back in right away. … people are looking for their regular servers; they know what nights they work. So eating at Lacey’s Bridge Tavern has become a regular thing again, ”he added.
If you own a business in Staten Island that changed course or came back strengthened during the pandemic, please email Tracey Porpora at [email protected] to be considered for a story.
MORE IN THE SERIES:
Back and better than ever: Killmeyer is returning to his family German roots
Children’s sensory fitness studio successful with new courses | Back and better than ever
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