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How a local restaurant survived COVID-19

By: Alec Busse

Few industries struggled through the pandemic as much as the restraurant industry. It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of eateries failed to make it through the pandemic, but one popular Champaign restaurant fought through the pandemic.

Aspen Tap House is one of the most popular places to eat in Champaign for community members, students and people coming through Champaign for sporting events or concerts. However, Aspen Tap House had to essentially change their entire business model.

Before the pandemic, the restaurant catered to the take-out crowd, but most of the business the restaurant produced was through dine-in orders and alcohol sales. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced Aspen Tap House to close their front doors and serve only a takeout crowd through meal delivery services and pick-ups.

This new model challenged Aspen Tap House. Communication among employees became much more important and attention to detail in orders, COVID guidelines and mandates became of the upmost importance. The restaurant also faced increased spending on supplies like masks, gloves and a greater demand for food and other ingredients. Due to a quality relationship with their vendors, Aspen Tap House was able to get creative in the ways they handled these challenges -- and later became successful at managing these difficulties.

Eventually, COVID-19 restrictions did disappear. That allowed Aspen Tap House to welcome customers back into the restaurant. The importance of following COVID guidelines, though, remained important. Customers were more comfortable attending restaurants that were clean and eateries where employees wore mask and followed COVID-19 guidelines.

Now, more than two-years after the pandemic first began hitting the United States Aspen Tap House has started to return to near normal pre-pandemic business.

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