Restaurants and their customers adjust to 'new normal'

Chairs were up on the tables during the lunch hour at Shapiro's Deli downtown due to the new restaurant restrictions. (WTHR photo/Mary Milz)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Restaurants and customers are adjusting to the "new normal" - no indoor dining.

It's carryout, pick-up and delivery only, the measures intended to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Tuesday, restaurant parking lots were for the most part empty, except for those trickling in for pick-up.

An employee at a Smoothie King said as she delivered an order curbside, "it's to keep people safe. The lobby is closed, but we're still serving our customers the best we can."

And at the downtown Shapiro's Deli on St. Patrick's Day, a day usually jammed with people, the dining area was closed off with people getting corned beef and cabbage to go.

"I hate to see it happen, because the economy is taking a big hit and a lot of restaurant workers depend on tips," Thomas "Trini" Trinidad said, leaving with $50 worth of corned beef and cabbage and several sides.

Owner Brian Shapiro couldn't recall anything like it.

"We're doing carryout, but that will be dramatically reduced because people aren't going out. They go to the grocery store and the pharmacy and that's it," he said. "There's no meetings, no catering or activities. Obviously, you can't have over 10 people together."

Customers weren't there to just pick up food.

The new restrictions are also hitting hard at City Market downtown. (WTHR photo/Mary Milz)

Steve Bridgewater, who also left with $50 worth of food, said, "I want to support Shapiro's and all the small businesses."

Rachael Vanhoy agreed.

"It's harder for our local community, like our smaller businesses, to survive because so many rely on tips in the service industry and and it's already a hard industry, right? With wages and the way it is," she said.

Shapiro's has had to lay off a few people and so have some of the places at City Market, where Cindy Hawkins said her business is down "at least 50 percent or more."

Hawkins and her husband own Circle City Sweets and three other places at City Market and Tuesday, for the first time ever, they had to lay off two people.

"I've never cried so much in my life. I think I cried more than they did," Hawkins said. "Handing someone information about how to file unemployment is heartbreaking and makes me sick to my stomach. But we're doing our best and hope to have them back here as soon as we can."

But for now, she's like everyone else, just taking things one day at a time.