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Downtown Springfield restaurants look to re-invent themselves to stay afloat during the pandemic

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 5:00 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Many Springfield restaurants are trying to hold on and stay open through the rest of this pandemic.

Executive Director of the Downtown Springfield Association Rusty Worley says although some restaurants have closed, he’s seeing increased interest in people looking to open up shop in the area.

“We’re always reinventing ourselves and there will be a process over the next six to 12 months where many of these venues are re-invented,” Worley says.

Patton Alley announced recently it will shut its doors. And Worley says as a staple in the community for 17 years, it is a tough loss. However, Worley says he’s remaining optimistic for future businesses to open up.

”It is disappointing to lose a long time business like that but I do think that as capacities ramp back up, based on that history that there will be others who will be interested in that space,” Worley says. “It’s just how do we get from here to the next six months is going to be critical.”

Worley says they’ve seen increased interest in outdoor dining as a safe way to eat out during the pandemic and he hopes that will draw more business as the weather warms up.

”With limited capacity some businesses are very tight on capacity so having those parklets and other options gives them the capacity that they need,” Worley says.

Owner of European Cafe, Uliana Komodi, says she had to be more creative during this time and continue to grow as a business owner. Komodi says that growth allowed her to open up a brand new breakfast restaurant called Rise, also in downtown Springfield. Komodi says the coronavirus pandemic taught her how to continue to adapt her business with the times.

”You cannot get stuck into a place where things are as they are,” Komodi says. “We’ve seen many restaurants do the same thing where they’ve quickly adapted to see where they can change and how they can still provide for their customers.”

Komodi says she took the things she learned during the pandemic and was able to go into her new restaurant with a clearer plan of what customers wanted.

”What if all of a sudden we couldn’t do business as we were used to but there was still a need there that we could fulfill,” Komodi says.

Worley says people who may have lost their jobs during this time are now looking to open their own businesses. He says it’s been a long, tough year for business owners but he’s seeing an interest in people looking to take over spaces from other restaurants that have shut down.

“They’ve been treading water with reduced revenues and trying to cut their expenses and so business owners are tired,” Worley says. “It’s been a long and weary year for them but those who emerge out on the other side of that will be stronger and we’ll see new businesses who come along.”

Worley says he expects business downtown to ramp up significantly during the summer and into the fall. Worley says the nightlife industry is the one that’s had the hardest adjustment period throughout the pandemic.

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