Charlevoix Restaurant Reflects on Losses During Lockdown


With Gov. Whitmer’s announcement on Wednesday, restaurants can open for dine-in service on Feb. 1.

Owner of Grey Gables in Charlevoix, Darren Romano said business has been rough, and he hasn’t felt this kind of financial pressure since he first opened the restaurant 27 years ago. “If I’m feeling it, and I’ve been here since 1994, I can just imagine what other businesses are,” he said. “My catering is off 88%. I mean, completely shut down. It feels like 100%, but the summer was at least 28% or more to be honest.”

They usually have enough money saved to make it through the slower winter season, but not this year. “I have capital and you got to keep your powder dry,” said Romano. “What I mean by that is you need working capital. You need to support your staff in the winter. We’re using normal capital but using it ten times more than normal.”

Romano said they’ve been taking all of the precautions and feels they could open safely. “We’ve got all of our sanitation stations. Staff are wearing masks. We’re doing temperature check. We’re following all of the CDC guidelines. We’ve removed touch points in the restaurant. We’ve made adjustments along the way and we haven’t had one contact trace.”

Overall, Romano feels good about restaurants being able to hold dine-in next month, and he hopes it isn’t extended any further. “This is the hospitality business. We have the skills to take care of people. I just feel she needs to give us those opportunities.”