Restaurants Adapt, Struggle, Or Shutter Following Governor's Directive

Mar 17, 2020

Eugene eateries are feeling the pinch from Governor Brown’s directive to close all restaurants and bars to curb the potential spread of coronavirus.

The Monges, inside their El Sitio food truck in downtown Eugene.
Credit Brina Bull / KLCC

As lunchtime customers approach several downtown food trucks, Jonathan Monge of El Sitio says it’s a tough time.

El Sitio's food truck off of 8th Avenue.
Credit Brian Bull

“Some people really appreciate that we’re staying open," he tells KLCC. 

"We’ve asked people to call in ahead so they have their food ready when they come here, and they can just go home and stay safe.”

Monge says in talking with fellow food truck and food cart operators, many are hoping business picks up.  They have it slightly easier than restaurants in that they are regularly used for take-out, something large-scale, sit-down eateries are trying to adapt in wake of the governor's protocols against COVID-19.

At the west side Taco Time, regional manager Stan Owens says they’re relying on take-out and drive-through business to sustain Eugene’s oldest restaurant chain.  During the noon hour Tuesday, there was a steady stream of vehicles using the drive-through window.  And Owens says they’ve closed the dining area and salsa bar for now, to minimize risk.

Customers use the drive-through at the 11th Avenue Taco Time.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“Anything that…someone could come in and possibly be contaminated and touch it, we’re siding on the side of caution for everything," says Owens. 

"I mean, you can’t even get a napkin, we’ll have to give you napkins, we gotta give you everything.”

While sanitation has always been a stringent standard at the restaurant, Taco Time workers have been more frequent with hygiene than ever.  Owens says they are washing their hands on the hour, every hour.

"We're in uncharted territory, I've never dealt with this situation in all my 30 years with the brand," he says.

Stan Owens, regional manager for Taco Time. The dining area and salsa area have both been closed, but customers can still do drive-through and take-out.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Other area restaurants have been hit hard. The owner of Krob Krua Thai Family Kitchen and The Davis tells KLCC they’ve had to let 30 workers go. And the Oregon Electric Station is closed until further notice.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.