Alisson’s Restaurant in Dock Square is offering takeout these days, as are a number of other area eateries,now that all Maine dining room service has been halted by the state government. Tammy Wells Photo

There’s little doubt about it, the hospitality industry is taking a hit in these COVID-19 times. People are cautioned against travel in many states and many are taking heed, staying closer to home, and in Maine and elsewhere, restaurant dining rooms have been ordered shuttered.

Still, restaurants are adapting to providing takeout, and doing the best they can to stay open and serve customers and have expressed gratitude to those who have ordered meals to go.

At Alisson’s Restaurant in Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, Ashley Padget, who shares general manager duties with her brother Adam, said they were able to bring back three of the employees who had recently been laid off.

All told, the restaurant had employed 60 full and part-time staff, said Ashley in a telephone interview on Monday, but that had dwindled to just a handful as dining rooms all over Maine were ordered closed. Being able to bring back three employees was a positive sign.

Dock Square in Kennebunkport is usually a little more brisk with business and traffic even on a weekday in March, but traffic was extremely light on a recent Wednesday. Tammy Wells Photo

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of community support with takeout orders,” the mangers said in a Friday evening Facebook post.

“This is tough on smaller restaurants, said Adam Padget in the 47- year-old family-owned restaurant on Wednesday, March 18, a day after Gov. Janet Mills ordered dining rooms to close. “But we’re better off than some.”

At Mike’s American Diner in Arundel, owner Mike D’Amico on Friday said he and his remaining staff would give offering takeout service a try.

“We’ll retool the best we can,” said D’Amico. “But if this goes into the summer, it could be catastrophic for many sectors of the economy.”

D’Amico, who estimated he employed 26 people between the diner and All Day Breakfast, a restaurant he operates in Lower Village, said he had laid off about 80 percent of the staff.

“We’ve seen ups and downs but I couldn’t consider this a down, D’Amico said. “It’s a plummet.”

Like governors in other states,  Gov. Janet Mills put a halt to inside dining March 17. As of Monday, March 23, the dining-in prohibition was to last through March 31, but that could change. Mills’ Communications Director Scott Ogden, said the executive order would  be reviewed prior to its expiration date “for a determination of the need for revision and renewal.”

Laura Dolce, executive director of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber and area merchants are ready for good times, sooner, rather than later.

Dolce has heard a lot from members, particularly those in the hospitality industry, and what she’s heard isn’t good.

“(They’re) extremely worried about the time we’re in now and what’s coming in the future, “Dolce said by telephone on Thursday. “Hotels are seeing all their advance bookings being wiped out, people aren’t feeling confident. Hopefully, that will change, but the spring season is gone.”

She said she’s been told weddings have been postponed, which effects a number of businesses, from hotels to caterers to those providing table rentals and more.

“(Private) preschools and daycares don’t know what the future holds, and many gyms have closed,” she said, though some gyms offer online workouts.

Dolce said she and the two other Chamber staff have compiled lists of businesses that are open and resources for those business that need help. The chamber’s Facebook page, 3 towns, 1 community, is frequently updated, and the Chamber’s newsletter arrived by email, usually at 6 a.m.

“We know things are really hard right now, and the first week has been a blur,” Dolce wrote in Monday’s newsletter. “None of us saw this coming, and we have no idea yet of when this will end. In the meantime, we’re all struggling to get our feet under us.”

She said she knew business owners and employees are struggling and that financial concerns are paramount. She advised folks to contact their lenders, and to be honest about the state their business is in.

She also introduced a new program, called Pay Now, Play Later, whereby folks can purchase gift certificates that can be used another time.

For information on Operation Take Out, which is a listing of restaurants that offer the service, and an array of other information, visit the Chamber website at www.gokennebunks.com.

Dolce, and the business owners are looking ahead, to better times.

“We’re ready to do a grand reopening,” she said.

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