BANGOR – State-mandated social isolation has forced the closure of restaurant and bars to in-person customers, and fractured hotel occupancy rates.
The chairs are gone from the patio and the doors are locked, but Seasons in Bangor is working to keep the lights on. “We’re not traditionally a take out place so it took us a while to get our feet going,” said Seasons Grill and Lounge general manager John Hafford.
Seasons, like all other restaurants across the state, have been forced to close its dining room to customers due to state-mandated social distancing policies, which means the closure of its banquet room, bar and Downunder Club, and also means a significant loss in revenue. “We’ve just had to adapt to being a food only establishment right now, which took some rearranging on the inside, we’ve adapted pretty well,” said Hafford.
One of the main adaptations Seasons and other restaurants have implemented is laying off all of its hourly staff to allow them to apply for unemployment benefits, while a skeleton crew operates the remaining operations. “I put a Facebook group together and enlisted everyone on our staff to let everyone know best practices because there’s a lot of questions out there people haven’t thought of before,” said Hafford.
It’s a similar situation for the employees at The Charles Inn, and other area hotels. Almost all of The Charles Inn staff have had their hours cut or have been laid off, while the hotel remains open, looking to attract customer and emergency stays. “As a manager of these hotels I want to make sure they have everything they need daily,” said Leeanne Hewey, managing partner at The Charles Inn and the Vacationland Inns.
An emergency federal stimulus package that is expected to be voted on by the US House of Representatives on Friday would offer relief to small businesses through $370 billion in forgivable federal loans. “As long as these small businesses pay their rent, pay their staff and some of the basic operating costs, they will be able to get those loans completely forgiven,” said Hospitality Maine president and CEO Steve Hewins.