Restrictions put on restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic were already tough on establishments like Meat Hook BBQ in Laceyville.
Throwing in a meat shortage with rising product costs made owners Randy and Rene Brigham see the writing on the wall.
They predict that this weekend will be their last for curbside pickup, adding Meat Hook to “the graveyard of restaurants that litter our good state.”
It’s been difficult for the Brighams to get the products they need, and they couldn’t justify raising prices with many customers going through a tough time.
Even with Wyoming County moving into the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to reopen Pennsylvania, Randy Brigham said circumstances for restaurants won’t change. Under the yellow phase, restaurants must stick with the same restrictions as the red phase.
To his knowledge, restaurant guidelines for the green phase have yet to be established.
Meat Hook has been doing well with takeout only, Brigham said. He thanked his loyal customers for their continued support, as well as Cargill Meat Solutions. The restaurant has been open seasonally in Laceyville since 2015.
“So many people have been so wonderful and my wife and I had a wonderful time doing this,” he said.
In the end, he said they didn’t want to run the business into the ground in an attempt to stay afloat during the pandemic. They hope to reopen Meat Hook some time in the future if possible.
In Tunkhannock, Purkey’s Pink Apple has been a community fixture since 2009. Owners Sally and Jim Purkey have decided not to reopen the diner, which has been closed since Gov. Wolf originally placed restrictions on businesses in mid-March.
The couple had planned on retiring and selling the Pink Apple since before the pandemic hit, but Sally Purkey explained that complications with COVID-19 made it infeasible to reopen first.
She sees a possible future of limited seating being hard on the restaurant, and either way, she believes people won’t be flocking to restaurants once restrictions get lifted anyway.
“We hoped to sell it and have the Pink Apple tradition continue on, but I don’t think people are interested right now,” she said. “At this point, we’re just planning on closing and retiring.”
It’s difficult to see employees lose their jobs, some of which have been there from the beginning, she said. The Purkeys also had to miss out on saying a proper goodbye to customers who made eating at the Pink Apple part of their routine.
Her favorite memory will always be seeing the restaurant at full capacity with people chatting and laughing, when she would look around and know everybody there.
“It was like a home away from home,” she said.
Purkey thanked everyone who made the restaurant “a success and a home” over the years.
She also sent well wishes to other restaurant owners struggling during this time.
“I think the restaurant industry is going to suffer terribly through this,” Purkey said. “It will be difficult to make a comeback, and my heart goes out to all those people who need their restaurant business to survive.”
Other types of businesses have been hurting throughout the pandemic, though there may be somewhat of a light at the end of the tunnel with Wyoming County going yellow this Friday.
Mark Monsey, owner of Greenwood’s Furniture in Tunkhannock, was beginning to see closing his business after nearly 59 years as a possibility.
Having to remain closed has hugely impacted the furniture store, as insurance, utilities and other expenses remain, he said. It also frustrated Monsey to see big box stores allowed to sell furniture with hundreds of people inside while he couldn’t even have one customer visit at a time.
Wolf’s announcement last week to move Wyoming County into the yellow phase has made him more optimistic. He just hopes customers will still come out to shop.
“As long as the
economy holds up, we’ll be fine,” Monsey said.