- Special Counsel
When I first envisioned opening a restaurant in downtown Charleston, my primary focus was simple: an establishment with great food and stellar service that was open every day of the year. I literally wanted to build the type of place that I wanted to hang out in. I am so grateful that since Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille opened in May of 2011, that vison has come true. We have grown into a downtown destination for families, friends and tourists to congregate, grab a bite and have a cold beverage while watching their favorite sporting events.
Obviously, there are always obstacles to running any restaurant or business, but we have never faced anything like the current COVID-19 pandemic. Along with many other businesses, we were forced to close our doors for nearly three months during the onset of this deadly virus. While we have recently been able to reopen, we are still cautiously inching towards “the new normal.” Let’s face it, the last few months have been some of the most trying times witnessed by our state, country and planet. That being said, the restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit. In fact, research from the National Restaurant Association shows that the restaurant industry in the United States alone has lost $120 billion in sales during these past few months. Unfortunately for our industry, the bad news does not stop there. The National Restaurant Association’s survey also shows that more than 8 million restaurant employees were unemployed during the pandemic. It will be a long time before restaurant operators will see any type of profit, and, sadly, many are not going to make it through this pandemic.
Small business owners must always try to prepare for the unseen to have a chance to succeed. Adelphia is no different. We’ve always done our best to weather the storms in difficult times, and just because we were forced to close our doors for several months does not mean that we quit strategizing. On the contrary. Like many of you who are no strangers to hard work, we know that sometimes you’ve got to be like the donkey in the hailstorm – simply put your head down and keep on going. While we were closed, we re-evaluated our situation, took a step back and searched for a way to think past the insurmountable odds that the world was facing.
Our solution was a complete renovation and update of the restaurant. First, we literally took all the TVs, city memorabilia and other items off the walls for a fresh new color and coat of paint. Don’t worry – all the photos you’ve come to know and love have found their way back, as well as some wonderful new additions. We then orchestrated a complete update of the kitchen from the ground up. Flooring, stainless walls, lighting, equipment, the whole nine yards. No stone has been left unturned. We are excited to boast one of the greatest staffs, and nicest, cleanest and safest kitchens in the state!
Finally, as the guidelines were relaxed on May 26, we were again able to officially reopen our doors, albeit with a 50% occupancy rating. Improvise, overcome, adapt. The fact remains that the impact of the pandemic has gone much further than just temporary (and permanent) closures. It has hurt our workforce and food supply chain as well. Suppliers have been forced to stock limited goods, driving up costs. This, in turn, has forced most restaurants to offer limited menus. Nonetheless, the tweaks and changes we’ve made have still allowed us to provide a quality food selection with affordable prices as we move through the post COVID-19 era. The positive outpouring of support we have received has only reinforced our love and enthusiasm for what we do. A recent and wonderful review from “The Food Guy” at the Charleston Gazette doesn’t hurt, either. We are also hoping the city will soon join other communities throughout the nation and consider partially closing some of our downtown streets so restaurants can increase outdoor seating to help us better financially recuperate.
During the trials, tribulations, setbacks and triumphs leading up to the reopening process, the relief provided by our federal government also was critical in keeping many restaurants and businesses afloat. Through my work with the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (WVHTA), I was able to communicate directly with Senator Manchin, Senator Capito, Congressman McKinley and Congresswoman Miller about the needs of West Virginia business owners during the pandemic. We’ve also received great support from the U.S. Small Business Administration, WorkForce West Virginia and the state’s Tourism Office as we sought to navigate the ever-changing rules and regulations of pandemic relief programs. Access to our policymakers during this time was critical and greatly appreciated. Their willingness to consider the input of the WVHTA and its board members helped Congress shape important legislation that led to the changes in the recent passage of the PPP Flexibility Act. The significant barriers to many restaurants have now been removed. These new fixes to the Paycheck Protection Program will provide much needed relief to many small business owners who continue to struggle to make payroll, pay rent and reopen at a steady pace.
As we begin to come through the tunnel of these tumultuous times, it has been uplifting to see so many great friends, longtime customers and tourists returning to our downtown businesses as we safely observe social guidelines. I’ve always been extremely proud of our state and the City of Charleston. Our wonderful citizens and hard-working business owners are some of our greatest assets. I would like to thank everyone for their continued hard work and dedication, and I strongly encourage all West Virginians to please continue to support your local restaurants and businesses as we all passionately work to move forward in the wake of these trying times.
Editor’s Note: At this time, Adelphia has returned to its full menu and business hours of 11am to midnight, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Sunday’s feature brunch from 10am-2pm with free parking. Menus and additional information available online at adelphiasportsbar.com.
In Focus is a digital supplement to our firm's award-winning Views & Visions magazine. Like its print relative, the blog offers unique perspectives on a variety of topics from leaders of business and industry, government, education and community organizations throughout our region.