At first, the pandemic seemed like more of a blessing than a curse. For once, my two restaurant-owning parents could take a breath and use the constrained working hours to their advantage. That all quickly changed as people began to hide at home and opted to cook their own meals. Matters got worse when my town decided to ban diners from eating in. Our regular customers became scarce, only to be replaced by a flooded answering machine.
Although takeout is flourishing, the restaurant business in my town is dying under this pandemic. It seems as though every restaurant within a ten mile radius has given up— neon signs no longer light up the road— it’s fair to say that I’m living in a ghost town.
I watch everyday as my parents come home, their faces drained of the happiness that the restaurant used to give them. They’ve cut staff, cut down their ingredients and even their menu, but nothing seems to suffice. We just can’t outcompete the home-cooks and families who are afraid to step outside. Even more so, many customers are afraid of ‘foreign’ cooking (any meals that are cooked by others); afraid that they could contract this disease second-hand.
I’m undeniably proud of my parents for their perseverance and passion for what they do. This restaurant business has been in the family for many years and despite this seemingly incessant turmoil, this pandemic doesn’t put an end to generations of hard work. It’s inspiring to know that ceaseless dedication and will-power can get people through anything. One day when all of this is over, we can look back at this part of our lives and think of it as a blip in the road.
My greatest wish is that people could start taking this pandemic seriously. For once, people should look past their differences and start listening to experts. For my family’s sake and for the millions of restaurant owners across the country, we need to start working together.
Written by: Alina Fowler