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York County restaurants band together to survive off takeout business

Small restaurants in York County, still struggling under operating restrictions in Pennsylvania, started a social media page to support and promote each other.

YORK, Pa. — Small restaurants in York County, still struggling under operating restrictions in Pennsylvania, started a social media page to support and promote each other.

Many restaurants battered by this year’s capacity restrictions were hit again by the state’s indoor dining ban from Dec. 12 to Jan. 4.

Some Central Pennsylvania restaurants decided to open indoor dining rooms in violation of the state’s order.

Still, most complied.

“We’re all trying to band together and do what we need to do to keep everyone safe,” said Jesi Hamberger, co-owner of Brickyard Tavern in York City. “We don’t want a packed bar. I just lost my grandmother two weeks ago to COVID.”

Restaurants following the mitigation measures are now relying solely on income from takeout orders.

RELATED: Small business rallies York community to support small restaurants

A group of small restaurant owners in York County discussed ways to attract more business.

“Me and a couple other business owners say collaboration is the new currency,” said Jason Wehrle, co-owner of Belmont Bean Company in Spring Garden Township.

York County Restaurant Takeout was the result of their collaboration. The Facebook group provides a platform for residents to find open local eats.

“What we’re seeing is a good community response to help these small businesses whether it’s setting up tip jars for the employees there or going out and buying gift cards or takeout from these locations,” said Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association (PLBTA).

Owners said they appreciated the community’s support and would continue to welcome takeout orders and gift card purchases.

The fatigue in their voices, though, betrayed the toll this year has taken on small restaurant owners across the country.

“It’s tough. It’s tough for a small business to keep going,” Wehrle said.

“We are definitely getting tired of being the business that being targeted the most, we feel, in this process,” Hamberger said.

RELATED: Department of Health provides update on coronavirus: 14,755 new positives in two days bring the statewide total to 605,141.

Owners are bracing for a possible extension of restrictions, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state.

“A lot of people are wondering what will happen when Jan. 4 comes around,” Moran said. “Will it be extended or not?”

If restrictions are extended, restaurants designed for in-person dining will have to rely even longer on takeout sales alone.