The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted small business sectors across the city, and East Passyunk Avenue is no different. Businesses along the avenue have lost revenue due to the pandemic with fewer people traveling through the retail corridor on foot.
Lascala’s Birra, a small pizza shop located at the corner of 12th and Morris streets along East Passyunk Avenue, has slowly been recovering due to new guidelines allowing it to reopen, serving customers outside and inside.
Though many guidelines in the restaurant are in place for staff to follow, customers must wear a face mask and practice social distancing as well. Each worker inside the restaurant must wear a face mask, a face shield, and gloves.
Owner and manager Circo Lubrano takes following COVID-19 guidelines very seriously.
‘It’s a bit challenging to work with face shields and face masks and gloves, but you know, we still want to follow all of the guidelines so that we’re safe for everybody,” he said.
Jenny Kile is a manager, bartender, and hostess at Lascala’s Birra. She said the pandemic has forced her to and her staff to adapt to multiple roles during one shift.
“Someone who was a stationary bartender, now they’re also a bartender and a hostess,” Kile said. “You have a server who normally doesn’t know how to do any bartending and now they’re, you know, making their own drinks when they need to.”
Prior to the pandemic, most of the restaurant’s revenue had come from the dining room and bar. As the restaurant had to reduce its indoor dining, it needed to pivot in order to generate new sources of income for Lascala’s Birra.
“We commuted more to takeout and delivery for our revenue than the actual dine-in restaurant,” Lubrano said. The addition of outdoor seating over the summer also helped improve margins.
The East Passyunk Avenue Business and Improvement District is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement and success of businesses along East Passyunk Avenue. Adam Leiter, the executive director, said the organization is doing what it can to help local business owners through this challenging time.
“I really try to put myself in the shoes of the business owners,” Leiter said. “I completely understand and feel for them that this is their business.”
As the colder months come in, Leiter will work with the restaurants to ensure they are able to operate despite the conditions.
“It’s their livelihood,” he said. “And we’re really just trying to find every resource and create opportunities wherever we can.”
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