The days of sitting in a crowded restaurant are on hiatus, but many businesses are in need of support. Businesses at Wayne State and in much of the Midtown area have seen a decrease in traffic and people shopping at their stores.
A December 2020 report from the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association shows the devastating effects the COVID-19 pandemic has on the hospitality industry. Of the Michigan restaurant operators surveyed, 33% said it's not likely their businesses will be open in six months.
But there are easy ways to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, support your favorite neighborhood establishments and avoid making dinner. Many restaurants have even made ordering available online for carryout and delivery to your door through apps like GrubHub and Uber Eats.
There are many restaurants in need of support right now —whether at WSU, near campus or a local restaurant in your neighborhood.
Establishments overseen by WSU have seen many changes in order to keep patrons safe, Dining Resident District Manager Alex MacKenzie said.
“We have continuously adapted our best practices to keep dining safe,” MacKenzie said. “The health and safety of our customers and employees have remained our top priority, and we have put increased protocols into place at all dining locations.”
Gold ‘n’ Greens, the Starbucks on Anthony Wayne Drive, AAB POD Express, FAB POD Express and The Grind in the David Adamany Undergraduate Library have temporarily closed due to “current business demands,” said Sarah Leiteritz, director of operations at WSU dining. These locations are planning to reopen in fall 2021.
Subway also closed temporarily partway through the fall 2020 semester due to business demands, and will reopen when appropriate, MacKenzie said. Dunkin’ Donuts closed temporarily on Feb. 1, however, Dunkin’ coffee and donuts are now served weekdays in the Midtown Market.
MacKenzie said locations like Einstein Bros. Bagels, Freshii and Wingstop were all scheduled to permanently close prior to the pandemic and plans are being made to replace Freshii and Wingstop with new concepts in the fall.
Restaurants on campus not managed by WSU have also seen changes in operations during the pandemic.
Beyond Juicery + Eatery opened a new location on campus, on the street level of Anthony Wayne Drive Apartments, in August 2020 during the pandemic. About half of its customers are students living on campus, General Manager Marius Padieu said.
“Not having not as many kids on campus and no indoor dining has hurt us,” Padieu said.
In previous years, campus was much busier and now it's “just pretty slow,” said Ryan Jones, a WSU junior and Beyond employee.
“It's been a different experience, but it's still been something just to get me out of my room and like outside and still interacting with people during these times,” Jones said.
Beyond received some grants to help it stay open during the pandemic from the U.S. Small Business Administration but didn’t qualify for more due to opening so recently, Beyond owner Violet Gintsis said.
“I would love for us to be a destination point for students,” Gintsis said. “We're such a great fit and the energy level is here for when things go back to normal.”
Tom Tu and Joseph Freeman opened Quickly Boba Cafe in early March. Located in the basement of the Student Center, Quickly serves various milk tea flavors, fruit teas, smoothies, rice bowls, waffles, popcorn chicken, spring rolls and more.
“We noticed that there was not a lot of bubble tea down here and there's a large international student base,” Tu said.
Opening the cafe during a pandemic added “a bit of complexity” with the number of students in the Student Center on any given day being much lower than the typical number of students, Tu said.
In order to bring in customers, the cafe is hoping to hire students as staff members and determine what hours of operation best serve the student body.
“I think that this concept will be very popular amongst the students,” Tu said. “We are a minority owner-operated business. (W)e want to serve the student body, faculty as fast as we can, and to cater to their needs and to listen to their needs.”
Students interested in positions at Quickly at can contact them at QuicklyWSU@gmail.com.
In May 2019, before the pandemic, Shield’s Restaurant Bar Pizzeria opened in the Maccabees Building on WSU’s campus. Manager Norman Mourad said they have seen a gradual increase in customers since 25% dine-in capacity was allowed by the state on Feb. 1.
“Our goals now are to be real focused on safety and sanitation because we're a real, family sports, easy dining environment that people will be comfortable coming back and enjoying great pizza, salads and sandwiches,” Mourad said.
Shield’s staff will continue operating and they hope the WSU community, including students, faculty and staff will support them, Mourad said.
Opening in June 2018, Small World Kitchen serves a variety of different cuisines from the restaurant, located in the basement of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit. Items on the menu are constantly changing, featuring Mexican, Indian and American food, owner Ali Hachem said.
Calling Midtown its home, Small World Kitchen has seen its clientele of students and employees at neighboring businesses diminish, cashier Maya Hachem said. Many people are now working and going to school virtually.
“We’ve been missing some students. Some of our regulars haven’t been showing up, but thankfully some of our business is picking up recently,” Maya Hachem said.
To stay safe during the pandemic, workers are wearing gloves and masks, Ali Hachem said. Hand sanitizer is available for customers and no one can enter the building without wearing a face mask.
“Right now we are doing dine-in or carry-out but everyday it's one person or nobody who comes in,” Ali Hachem said.
Many customers refer to Small World Kitchen as a “hidden gem,” Maya Hachem said.
“I think that’s the perfect way to describe it just because when people walk in you can see them observing and like fascinated,” Maya Hachem said.
She said she appreciates all of the support they’ve received during challenging times.
“We’re also still very thankful for the customers that support us, even the ones that can’t show up but still support us digitally,” Maya Hachem said.
Gift cards are also available on their website.
Grace Reyes is a contributing writer for The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Photos of Beyond Juicery + Eatery and Shield's Restaurant Bar Pizzeria by Quinn Banks, The South End's multimedia editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos of Small World Kitchen by Jack Filbrandt, editor-in-chief at The South End. He can be reached at editorinchiefTSE@gmail.com.