Italian Moon, main street mainstay restaurant, to reopen – Grand Forks Herald

Restaurant News

Owner Scott Purpur said the mainstay restaurant on South Washington Street will have its first day back on Friday, April 17, after having been closed for about a month. The restaurant will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The Italian Moon will have a smaller menu than usual and will offer delivery and curbside pickup.

Though he’s glad to be reopening, Purpur acknowledged there are a lot of challenges, and he knows he’s operating in uncharted waters. Still, like other businesses, he has bills to pay.

“You have to try not to get too far behind,” Purpur said. “You still have light bills and heat bills.”

Purpur took over the restaurant about five years ago from longtime owner Ken Towers. It has been in business since 1965 and serves a variety of Mexican food, pizza, chicken and pasta.

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He made the decision to reopen recently, and said he called his employees, mostly kitchen staff about coming back. Servers can come back if they want to work the phones taking orders or help deliver. Bringing people back presents challenges in the close confines of a restaurant kitchen.

“You don’t want too many people in the building, because that’s not social distancing,” Purpur said. “It’s kind of a tricky thing to be open.”

Inventory is another challenge. Purpur said he doesn’t know how busy the restaurant will be, and he needs to keep a balance of having enough product on hand when it’s busy, versus letting things go bad when it’s slow.

“You don’t want to make too much food, and you don’t want to run out,” he said. “I don’t know what that is because I’ve never been in this situation.”

Purpur said he is in the same boat as other restaurants in town: excited to be back in business, but unsure of what business will be like.

“It’s kind of new ground for everybody,” Purpur said. “Most (restaurant owners) are excited to be smelling the ovens going and the cooking going.”

Purpur said the Italian Moon is made for big crowds, that’s how he pays the bills. Once the situation surrounding coronavirus recedes, and restaurants can return to dine-in service, he wonders how long it will take to get back to normal.

“How long is it going to be before everyone feels comfortable?” Purpur asks. “When are (people) going to feel comfortable to be out in crowds?”

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