DRUMS, Pa. — This time last year, economists estimated 40 percent of the nations’ restaurants were closed, leaving about 8 million people out of work.
It was the industry slammed the hardest by the pandemic.
Now, eatery owners are hoping for a comeback.
“I think it’s going to be a better year. Yes, they’re going to ease the restrictions, which will be a bigger help for smaller mom and pop places like us," said Jimmy Sabatino of Vesuvio's Pizzeria and Sports Bar in Luzerne County.
It will not be easy, but some experts said things can and will get better.
“Trying to identify your highest spending, most loyal customers to drive them in and hopefully increase word of mouth from there," said Megan Wintersteen of Zenreach.
Restaurant owners said they know the warmer weather will help them, with more outdoor dining and so will more vaccinations.
As people get the shots and confidence grows, they said, the diners will return.
“The more vaccinated people out there in the world, the easier it will be to ease the restrictions on restaurants," said Sabatino.
“So much about going to a restaurant is about the experience and the hospitality and the ambiance. I don’t think that’s something we will ever get tired of," said Wintersteen.