LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — Wagner's Restaurant in Lockport has a loyal customer base, but owner Judy Currie said she's seen more new faces recently.
“A lot of phone calls, where are you located, how long does it take to get there, you know asking about the menu, so that was a good indication also that they're from a different county," Currie said.
She said many of those customers are from Erie County. Indoor dining is not allowed in the orange zone. Rates in Niagara County continue to rise, but only a small part of the county is in the yellow zone, the rest is in no zone.
“You always want to improve your customer base, it definitely has done for us,” Currie said.
The boost to business comes as restaurants are struggling. According to a New York State Restaurant Association survey, nearly two-thirds of restaurants said they will likely close by the end of the year without an industry relief package.
Roger Mocny from Tonawanda said he would've most likely dined in Erie County Thursday night, but now that he's tried Wagner's Restaurant he will go back.
“We do practice safe distancing and things like that, but we enjoy trying new places and Niagara County is open,” Mocny said.
Mocny said he's eaten out in Niagara County about three or four times over the past two weeks.
A few blocks away at Shamus Restaurant, owner and manager Ann Murphy said business slowed down as patio weather ended and COVID-19 cases rised, but there was a bump when Erie County entered the orange zone.
“From weeks before that, it probably jumped up about 10-20%, and then we’ve noticed in the last couple weeks, even Thanksgiving weekend, that things have increased,” Murphy said.
She said indoor dining helps the business much more than takeout does, and allows her to keep on more stuff.
Murphy said she does fear that the trend in rising cases will lead to restrictions.
She said she hopes the new diners can benefit the area longterm.
“We’re always happy to have new customers come in and to let them know about our brand and community of Lockport.”
When Erie County initially moved to the orange zone, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) advised Western New Yorkers to avoid travel to other zones if businesses in their areas were closed to avoid asymptomatic spread.