Cafe Beaudelaire owner Claudio Gianello is contemplating closing his business due to financial concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Sept. 21, Gianello took to the Cafe Beaudelaire Facebook page and posted that he was unsure as to whether or not he would renew the lease agreement for the business, which ends in December.
“Times, they are changing," Gianello’s post said. "I have a big decision to make. Beaudelaire’s lease is up in December. What am I to do with this pandemic going on, barely paying bills?”
Cafe Beaudelaire’s struggle is similar to many other locally owned restaurants. The business said they were successful before the pandemic but found themselves adjusting to life with fewer customers and creating a reliable carryout system.
“We’re still struggling, and we don't know if we’ll make ends meet, but we’re trying our best to adapt,” Gianello said. “We are working on it and we are pretty certain that we will renew the lease.”
Gianello said the business first began as a place for international students to come and a place away from home, but then it picked up for those traveling abroad and got support from more of the Ames community. However, with travel restrictions as well as health concerns surrounding coronavirus, Cafe Beaudelaire has been seeing less of their regulars.
“Like every other business, we had to shut down and we lost almost all of our regulars, which were a big part of our success,” Gianello said.
Over the pandemic, Cafe Beaudelaire has introduced a new carryout option to respect social distancing guidelines and to reduce the spread of the virus. Kayli Nartatez, Iowa State alum and senior server at Cafe Beaudelaire, said servers and bartenders are receiving more carryout orders than they did prior to the pandemic. However, a lot less patrons have been physically coming into the business since the pandemic began.
“The atmosphere of Cafe Beaudelaire will always be there, but there’s obviously a damper on it right now," Nartatez said. "But I think most restaurants are experiencing a similar issue.”
Nartatez said to protect their patrons, Cafe Beaudelaire has also implemented more frequent and intensive cleaning routines. Workers are focusing on wiping down high-touch surfaces such as railings, door handles, tables and chairs more frequently.
“Before this, Claudio was a stickler for cleaning anyway,” said David Mysz, kitchen manager at Cafe Beaudelaire. “He’s also very strict on encouraging us not to be going out and putting ourselves at risk of being exposed to COVID-19.”
Mysz said he had contracted the virus early in the summer and had been absent from work for a full 14 days before returning. He explained the business’ policy does not allow employees who tested positive for the virus to return to work until they had proof of a negative test.
Mysz said the business has been greatly affected by the amount of workers who left due to concerns regarding COVID-19 as well as workers who have moved out of Ames or student workers who have graduated.
As of Nov. 17 and until 11:59 p.m. Dec. 10, the State of Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division is requiring establishments to close at 10 p.m. for in-person consumption and not allowing them to open to the general public until 6 a.m. the following day. However, businesses are still able to deliver food and offer carryout options.
The mandate also requires masks to be worn by foodservice workers and bartenders who have direct contact with patrons. Customers at restaurants and bars are also required to wear masks when not seated at a table.
Gianello said that Macubana, a fried macaroni and cheese restaurant that features menu and bar items from Cafe Beaudelaire, is doing well right now. He said its success can be traced back to deliveries and carryout orders.
“If we don’t renew Beaudelaire, then we will join Macubana,” Gianello said. “Beaudelaire will be around, just not with the same building.”
Gianello said after publishing a "desperate last breath" on Facebook, the business has received an overwhelming amount of support from the Ames community and on Facebook over the last few months.
“Any small business around is probably really struggling right now, and shopping small can help," Gianello said. "Shopping online and calling can help out a lot.”