CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — In a time when so many other restaurant owners are struggling to hang on, Paul Santora is bucking the trend and opening his third restaurant in Erie County.
“We’re just hoping and praying that they don’t close restaurants down,”Santora said.
Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill has taken over the former home of Gordon Biersch in the Walden Galleria’s restaurant row. Santora said the plan to open this third location came together long before COVID.
“And we were hoping that things would be developing the right way by the time we opened. Obviously, here we are, and we are just gonna do the best we can,” he said.
While Santora said he made up for a lot of lost revenue over the summer months, he said he is already noticing a decline in business now that the cold is settling in.
“We’ve had to lay people off again, cut their schedules, you know. Servers based on their money. Cooks, managers,” he said.
Santora says if his three restaurants were operating at full capacity, he would have more than 200 employees. Right now, he has 125.
“You know we’ve reduced our staff once again even though we’ve opened. We still are in a reduction process,” he said.
And with COVID cases on the rise in Erie Count he's unsure of what tomorrow may bring.
November 13 marks a new order from the state – all restaurants and bars must close by 10 p.m..
“It’s not only that you’re closing at 10. Every guest has to be out by 10 o’clock,which basically you’re saying we have to be closed at 9:15.”
And while Santora says he is grateful restaurants are still open, he is fearful of what may come next.
"To close and then have to reopen again and then close again. The roller coaster is just an impossibility for businesses.”
His message to you -- shop and dine localyl.
‘We have to support. If you don't wanna come out, try to do take out to local businesses. I don't care if it's me, I don't care if the guy down the street, just take care of one another. “