While Springfield-area restaurants will be allowed to open for limited indoor dining beginning on Friday, the Pie’s the Limit location in Parkway Pointe has permanently closed. “We couldn’t afford to continue to operate,” said Chris Hanken, who co-owns the business along with Vic Lanzotti. “The sales didn’t return to the level we thought they would, and we foresaw continued debt spiraling out of control.”
While Hanken said they did receive PPP funds, the money “ran its course” and the cash reserves were gone. However, the plan is to keep the location at 1710 S. MacArthur open, and Hanken noted that restaurant has already seen a slight uptick in sales since the Freedom Drive location closed on June 14. “We hope to envelop our customer base into one location with one overhead expense,” said Hanken.
In addition to Pie’s the Limit, Hanken and Lanzotti also own and operate two other restaurants, Lake Point Grill and Public House 29 in Rochester, plus Mowie’s Cue. “Each entity is different and presents its own problems and successes,” said Hanken, noting that some businesses in town are doing well despite the restrictions, due to having drive-thru windows or a cash-and-go format. “If we wanted that style of business, we would have opened it that way. It’s hard to ask a business to adapt (on short notice),” explained Hanken.
Hanken also said there have been staffing issues, with many employees declining to come back due to “generous” unemployment benefits. “We’ve had to hire new people and do additional training, which is more expense,” he said. “Then we have to pull back and simplify the menu to accommodate the skill set we currently have, so it’s all a ripple effect.”
However, one bright spot has been the ongoing support from regular customers. “People you might have seen twice a month, we’re seeing twice a week. They’re doing it to support us,” said Hanken, noting that there has been “great support” from the community and that people have also been generous with the staff.
For now, Hanken is taking things a day at a time. “We’re waiting to see how well the limited indoor seating will go this Friday; we’re excited to see our customers back. But when you completely shut down an industry that has low profit margins anyway and the bills continue, it’s an uphill battle,” he said.
“It’s been devastating. Not everybody is going to make it out of this thing.”