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How local restaurants are coping during the pandemic

Sal Marino, owner of the local, Italian restaurant, Marino’s. Photo by a member of the Marino family.

By Abby ’24 and Jade ’25

During the pandemic, restaurants have had it tough. They have had to adapt in many creative, unprecedented ways in order to stay afloat and keep their customers and workers safe. New, Covid-safe expectations for restaurants have drastically increased the importance of serving take-out food and using limited space to comply with outdoor seating guidelines. These changes can make or break a restaurant, and many local restaurants surrounding Marlborough have had to adapt in order to survive. 

A popular, family run Italian restaurant, Marino’s has been a family favorite for many. Sal Marino, the owner of Marino’s, has had to accommodate Covid restrictions by using the restaurant’s parking lot as outdoor seating, relying on takeout orders, scheduling Zooms to rally the nearby community and increasing the usage of cleaning supplies.

“It makes us work twice as hard for half the money,” Marino said. 

However, Marino does not let this fact get him down, and despite the often unpredictable challenges, the owner and chef still manages to have a positive outlook. 

“It’s a different feel, but I always try to spin it into a positive. I’m blessed that I wake up every morning and do what I love, which is cooking,” Marino said.

Village Pizza, another usually buzzing restaurant on Larchmont that has been successful for over 25 years, is also going through a similar experience. However, they have less seating available than Marino’s and a dilemma with their landlord. The owner of Village Pizza, Steve Cohen, explained that when Covid cases are rising, money is decreasing, while rent still increases. Cohen explains that he is still trying to figure out how to handle this situation. 

Do you, “walk away, sell [the lease], fight, or have a GoFundMe?” Cohen said when discussing how to keep the franchise running.

For the meantime, Cohen says that Village pizza has joined Postmates and other delivery services, but “sales are off,” and these new ideas won’t cut it. 

 “Nothing is as good as a party at a table and upselling,” Cohen said.

Upselling is the business term where sellers make suggestions of certain foods to try and therefore a large profit is made, especially at a table with many people and liquor orders. 

As restrictions are returning and Covid cases are on the rise, restaurants will once again have to close down and face a time of uncertainty. Despite this, it is incredibly important to support local restaurants such as Village Pizza and Marino’s in order to help them survive. 

“I want to use this opportunity to make a statement to encourage people to support local businesses. Those are the ones that are affected the most. Your dollars make a difference,” Marino said.  

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