‘We’re lucky to be back’: Few Spokane restaurants reopen during pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash. – Some businesses which closed for the stay home order are opening back up. There’s no dine-in yet, but owners are taking advantage of what they’ve learned in the last month.

“It came to the point of we’re either going to close the doors for good, or we’re going to get back to business,” said Aaron Fiorini, the owner of Market Street Pizza Parlor.

That decision was to open back up again.

Six weeks ago, Fiorini decided to close the doors.

“That was in fear of how bad this virus could be. It was in fear of our staff, our team,” he said.

That was the decision Downriver Grill also made about a month ago. Both restaurant owners said it was not an easy choice.

“There’s still a lot of unknowns and fears out there, but we decided to reopen,” said Juli Norris, the owner of Downriver Grill.

Both were welcomed by the community with metaphorically open arms.

“it was refreshing when we were able to open up the doors again.  we had a lot of support from the local community, people sending us Facebook messages, Instagram messages saying ‘We miss you,’ ‘Come back,'” Norris said.

Market Street Pizza Parlor just opened up in November. Fiorini said they were busy for a while before the pandemic hit.

“With COVID and this issue that’s arised, it’s been really hard for us,” Fiorini said.

Now, both restaurants are going through what some restaurants did when the stay home order first went into effect.

“It’s a very lonely feeling to see the restaurant so empty and where people used to sit, now we have our to-go supplies and take out table or have something like that,” Norris said.

Rooms where people are supposed to be having fun, enjoying food and drinks are now filled with items not meant to be there. Like at Market Street Pizza, their arcade room is now filled with pizza boxes and delivery supplies.

“It changes the vibe of everything. the energy is definitely pulled out of the location and the business. We hope it comes back very soon,” Fiorini said.

Change can be difficult, but they did it because they had to.

For both Downriver Grill and Market Street Pizza, to-go sales made up about 10 percent of their profit before the pandemic. So, switching to all to-go orders was a big change.

“We’ve welcomed that challenge, but at the same time we cannot wait until we can open our doors again for dine-in and be able to spend time with the people of Spokane,” Norris said.

Thanks to small business loans, both businesses opened their doors recently.

“We’re back. We’re lucky to be back and we’re just going to keep on keepin’ on. That’s all you can do right now,” Fiorini said.

“That’s why we do this. It’s because we love our community so much,” Norris said.

Both restaurants are open with different hours. Market Street Pizza started delivering for the first time and Downriver Grill said it is holding specials daily. Check out their Facebook pages for more information.

READ: Here’s how you can be a helper during the coronavirus pandemic

RELATED: Supporting local restaurants: Where you can order takeout or delivery