Moonstone Cellars, 812 Cornwall St, Cambria, got creative when the pandemic hit and will continue with
the table service tastings.
This past year with its lockdowns, changing tiers, and closures, many businesses have suffered. Some have permanently shuttered or struggled to keep the doors open. But for others, the year brought some surprising twists and unexpected boosts.
Todd Clift, owner and winemaker at Moonstone Cellars reflected on some advice he was given prior to the pandemic. “A consultant suggested table service for tastings. I thought it would be way too much trouble. But once we were forced to do it, outside, turns out he might have been right.”
Todd went on to say, “Our guests really enjoy it, our staff is happier, and we are selling more wine.” However, these benefits did come at a cost. Todd says “I had to invest quite a bit in creating the patio space, purchasing reservation software, fire tables and heaters, hiring new staff. But it was worth it,” says Clift. “When the pandemic is over, we will continue to serve our guests this way. I’m pretty happy about it.”
Across town in the East Village, Miguel Viveros, owner of the French Bakery, says “I’m surprised every month when I look at the books. Both the bakery and our sister business, Sandi’s Deli, are doing well.” Viveros explains that both shops were always predominantly “to-go” businesses so they were well suited to continue during the pandemic. He says “In the beginning I was so worried about my employees. But our customers kept coming. Sandi’s did even better than the bakery. I’m really happy I can keep my employees working.”
On the other end of town, Vicki and Gary Neal, owners of the West End Bar & Grill, have seen business pick up in the last several months. “The first couple of months of the lockdown were rough,” Gary said. “We only took over this restaurant in March of 2019, and there was a lot we had to do to turn it around and then the pandemic hit. But 2020 was actually better than 2019.”
Gary explained that the first thing they did was get involved with the Lion’s Club, as well as other Cambria restaurants, to provide meals for struggling families. In the early months of the lockdown they were feeding 100 families a week. They started promoting heavily on social media and began take-out and delivery service. They continue to provide deliveries Thursday through Sunday, but now they can focus on the new outdoor dining area.
Gary gives most of the credit to his wife, Vicki, who has 38 years of service experience. “She is passionate about providing good service to our customers.”
Vicki gets excited when talking about the new outdoor dining space. “It’s really beautiful, and comfortable. It has been a blessing. We’ve added heaters and flowers, we love it. Our customers really enjoy it. I guess if I had to think of a downside, it would be all the propane tanks we have to keep filling!”