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Take it out

Local eateries offer takeout, curbside pickup

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Amy Doud, manager of Caris Sub Shop in Lock Haven, makes an Italian sub for a customer at lunchtime as Jason Caris looks on. Caris has kept his doors open and has not adjusted his hours.

LOCK HAVEN — On a normal afternoon at Stella A’s, the lunchtime rush would be in full swing. Cooks would be hustling to fill orders, wait staff would be taking care of hungry customers and the restaurant would be filled with regulars.

But these days, things are different. Owner Louie Anastos sits on a bar stool and looks around the empty restaurant.

Stella A’s is one of the downtown restaurants still open, offering take-out and curbside pickup during lunch and dinner hours.

“There’s been support. All of the locals are supporting us — either take out or curbside pickup. Most of it has been outside,” Anastos said. “It’s been a good response, considering how business is. Yeah, I think it’s been good.”

Stella A’s, located at 219 E. Main St., is one of several downtown restaurants to remain open and offer take-out and pick-up meals. Others have chosen to close their doors during the COVID-19 crisis.

CHRIS MORELLI/THE EXPRESS Louie Anastos, right, owner of Stella A’s, stands with one of his employees, Courtney Dukmen, on a recent afternoon at the restaurant. Stella A’s is offering takeout and curbside pickup.

“We’re open for lunch and dinner with a full menu. We’ve been re-evaluating it every week. It’s one week at a time. We see how the week goes and we see what the announcements are and we go by that,” Anastos said.

Inside Stella A’s, Anastos and his staff are keeping things simple. Nearly all of the tables, chairs and barstools have been removed. They are constantly cleaning and sanitizing.

In all of his years in the restaurant business, Anastos said that he’s never seen anything quite like this.

“I don’t think anybody has in their lifetime,” Anastos said.

Anastos said that the hardest part — for him — is trying to keep employees around during this trying time. After all, bartenders can’t mix drinks and wait staff has no tables to wait on. He’s tried to get creative.

“We have part-time and full-time employees … it’s tough trying to do a balancing act … dividing up hours so that everyone gets a little piece of the pie because the hours are condensed. They’re not our normal hours, obviously,” Anastos said.

In addition to the regular full menu, Anastos said that Stella A’s is having “features” every day to draw regulars and new customers into place take-out orders.

“We do have regulars and they’ve also been supporting us. I do feel the community is doing its part supporting all the local businesses and I think they’re doing their part with the social distancing and being sanitary,” Anastos said.

According to Anastos, the curbside pickup accounts for “98 percent” of orders at Stella A’s.

“It’s very popular right now. It might be popular even after this is over,” Anastos said with a smile.

Just a few blocks down the street, Caris Sub Shop, 524 E. Main St., is keeping its regular hours during the COVID-19 crisis. Owner Jason Caris said that while business has slowed some, he hasn’t seen a significant drop.

“Almost about the same, for the most part. We’re hanging in there enough to keep us working,” Caris said. “We’re mostly busy at dinner time.”

Caris said that they are continuing to offer a full menu featuring hot subs, cold subs, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, salads and deserts. All menu items are available for takeout orders only.

The most popular item?

“Same as always,” he said, “our cheesesteaks.”

Caris is still offering daily specials as well.

“We’ve seen a lot of new customers,” said manager Amy Doud.

Doud said that she misses the regulars who would frequent the sub shop.

“We have a lot of customers who come in to sit with us, eat and chat. We can’t do that and it’s sad,” Doud said. “We’re like a family here.”

The changes aren’t just affecting restaurant owners and managers. Customers are also adjusting to the new normal.

Olivia Smith, 17, was visiting her grandfather on Thursday. They decided to go out and get take out for lunch. With their options limited, they stopped at Domino’s Pizza, 203 N. Jay St.

“A lot of places are closed, so we came here,” Smith said.

She said that they are trying to adjust to having limited choices.

“I think it’s kind of bizarre,” Smith said. “It’s something different, so I guess I’m going to just have to get used to it.”

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