Indiana restaurant owners react to closure of in-store dining

Coronavirus Watch

NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) – During a shutdown of in-person dining ordered by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, the owner of the Newburgh’s Cafe Arazu Penny Nejad is trying to stay positive.

“It’s gonna be tough but we’re supposed to stay upbeat,” said Nejad.

Penny has owned Cafe Arazu In Downtown Newburgh for nearly 10 years and she says she’s never seen anything like it.

“We were actually hoping we would be allowed to do social distancing and just sort of seat people far apart but I understand that everyone is scared and we have to play a part,” Nejad said.

She says if the shutdown lasts longer than a couple weeks – it could be hard for her business to survive.

“We would soon run out of the funds to do that if it slows down a lot,” she said. “I know we have a great loyal base and I imagine they would try and support us with carryout and things but a lot of it is the ambience of being here.”

With a sign informing customers of the changes taped at the door, servers are taking the brunt of the new closures.

“I mean I think everybody is panicking and (people) are just going into survival mode and I know Penny is scrambling and trying to make the best out of the situation, you know with the carry outs and to-gos and we are going to be doing this and posting on social media and letting people know we will probably be doing deep cleaning and doing that while we are shutdown,” Cafe Arazu server Lexi Horswood said.

Horswood said she has many questions –  like when will she get another paycheck.

“I don’t know how it is going to go over so that’s what is scary, is just do it and see,” she said. 

The owners of Cafe Arazu are hopeful. 

“Be happy and enjoy this family time. That’s what I say to our customers,” said Nejad. 

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(This story was originally published on March 16, 2020)

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