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As restaurants go delivery-only due to COVID-19, one owner tells us how she is coping (16 photos)

With dining rooms across the province closed by government order, restaurants find themselves facing a new reality this week

Restaurants found themselves faced with a new reality on Tuesday as the province instituted a State of Emergency that effectively shut down dining rooms across the province.

Scores of locations have turned to delivery and takeout to keep operating and to keep their staff members employed. Many who have made that change have reached out to SooToday be listed here, along with other organizations and businesses in town which remain open but have reduced their hours or availability.

Angela Caputo's breakfast and brunch restaurant, The Breakfast Pig, is just one of many restaurants to have changed the way they are working, but Caputo did so the day before the province made it mandatory. She said it was a tough decision, but she wanted to avoid feeling "rushed or helpless" in the face of a crisis.

"With this particular situation, I knew our community was feeling lost and confused. No one knew what to do, so in my small way, I was trying to lead us to a safer option by limiting contact. Small things can have a big impact in uncertain times, so I knew that stepping forward would be a positive action even though it was a very tough decision to make." said Caputo.

A major change was to actually expand her kitchen's hours of operation: from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily to accommodate after-work and dinner requests. Delivery is also new and Caputo said serving staff have volunteered to make those deliveries.

In an effort to provide work for her staff, use up perishables and keep busy herself, Caputo said she has used this as an opportunity to create some special menu items in addition to her regular menu.

"We have really changed things up. I believe that in order to stay on top, you’ve got to remain sharp as a business owner – be flexible and creative and have that 'roll with the punches' type of attitude. So with that being said, we moved toward a lot of comfort foods. Trays of ready-to-bake mac and cheese, delicious scratch-made soups, burgers, and we are taking requests for things people would like to see us feature. Our entire menu is also available and has been selling well. Truth be told, I love making soups and hearty dishes. I’m a Nonna at heart." said Caputo.

"The Pig currently employs 14 people. Our full staff have come forward saying they would like to continue to work and will do whatever is necessary to keep things moving. Because this is uncharted territory and we don’t know what to expect, we haven’t put anyone on protected leave yet. If I do have to do that, I have already made the promise that The Breakfast Pig will not allow its staff or families of staff to go without. We will do whatever we can to ensure our employees are comfortable during this time and that they know they will be coming back to business as usual as soon as this is all over," said Caputo.

"Being in business in such uncertain times is difficult. We have no road map for this," said Caputo.

One thing people can do to help local businesses is to buy gift certificates during the shut-down, but Caputo said she would prefer people keep her restaurant busy now by ordering takeout.

"I think that any time people are thinking of small business that is a positive thing. We are happy to sell gift certificates, but we aren’t putting a big push on it at this time," said Caputo.

"If small businesses are asking for that to happen, then support their initiative but maybe purchase a gift certificate from a business who is reaching out and asking for customers to do so if you’re looking to help support that initiative. I’m sure a newer business would love that type of support," suggests Caputo.

It is not yet known how long this crisis will last and Caputo is finding new ways daily to network with other small business owners.

"The Sault really is a wonderful place," she said.