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Open or closed: restaurant owners talk challenges during a pandemic

Migual's Mexican restaurant closed down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other restaurants have decided to stay open. (John Dougherty/KTVF)
Migual's Mexican restaurant closed down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other restaurants have decided to stay open. (John Dougherty/KTVF)(KTVF)
Published: Apr. 10, 2020 at 5:38 PM AKDT
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Everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19. On March 17, the state of Alaska ordered that all restaurants and bars be closed to dine-in services.

Many restaurants have been relying on deliveries and to-go orders, but some have closed entirely.

"Everyday has kind of been unknown, so I just thought it would be best for my business to shut down for a while and see what was going to happen," said Audrey Ranstead the owner of Bagels and Brew.

Tariq Khan, owner of Spice it Up Grill chose to stay open.

"My main goal to be open was, you know I have to pay rent, insurances, I have employees who have to make their money, who have to pay their rents and all that," Khan said.

He said that if they had to close they may not be able to stay in business. Another reason he wanted to stay open is so he could continue to serve the community. Khan said he has been taking part in giving free lunches to kids who are out of school.

While finances play a big role for owners, deciding whether to stay open, safety was another concern.

"We just didn't feel right, we just didn't feel safe enough, so we just decided to close the doors and pray for the best," said Miguel Montes De Oca the owner of Miguel’s.

He said it was a hard decision and there is lots of financial stress with closing.

Even though Bagels and Brew originally decided to close, they said after things calmed down and they were able to come up with a plan to safely reopen. For all of the owners we talked to, keeping the employees and customers safe was a top priority.

Montes De Oca said that they are using the down time to do some cleaning and get ready to reopen.

"We are deep cleaning everything and trying to get everything ready and ready to rock and roll when it's time to open,” Montes De Oca said.

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