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We're Open Indy: His Place Eatery is adapting to carryout model during pandemic

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Posted at 7:36 AM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 14:25:14-04

In a time when we can't all gather around a table, we can still come together as a community. We're Open Indy is a partnership between WRTV and our local restaurants and businesses with one goal: getting them through this tough time. Every day, we will help shine a light on the businesses that make up our community by telling their stories and rallying around those who are keeping the grills going, the hospitals running, and the businesses operating.

INDIANAPOLIS — Social distancing and not being able to eat inside is the new normal for Indiana restaurants that are now counting on carryout to carry them through.

It's a new chapter for James Jones and his staff at His Place Eatery. The east side restaurant that says it simply serves good food, including soul food and barbecue, is among thousands of restaurants in the state adjusting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are kind of fortunate in that we do, like about 60% of our business was carryout anyway," Jones said. "So for us it wasn't a matter of flipping a switch and going to carryout. It was more a matter of figuring out how to do carryout in this environment and do it efficiently."

At His Place Eatery, customers can call in their order, wait outside in their car and a runner will bring their food outside to them. Jones said coming up with a working and sanitary system was an adjustment for his business, but he said it won't be as easy for restaurants just learning the carryout game.

"That's a whole different ball game because you have a marketing issue where people didn't know you were doing carryout," Jones said.

Jones said after educating customers, there are still other battles, including ordering carryout supplies a restaurant didn't need before, changing how much food the restaurant orders and how many hours the employees are working.

Jones said while business has slowed and he's had to cut employee hours to make up for a minimum 40% loss, he is optimistic for the end of the pandemic, which he's looking at week-by-week.

"From a mental standpoint, it's probably easier to deal with in those bite-sized pieces. You know, what I'm saying. Give me a bite sized piece that I can take care of. If it changes that cool, but just tell me when it changes. Don't give me too much to think about right now," Jones said.

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