Limerick restauranteur discusses effects of Covid on her business

Like many other restaurants, Tuscany Bistro, which has had its home in Castletroy since 2003, was forced to close due to Covid-19 in March.

Sabrina Amodeo, founder and owner of Tuscany Bistro, said “When this hit in March I genuinely did not know what to do”

Now more than eight months later they are faced with another lockdown, forcing them again to close their dine in service and go back to the takeaway service they started in May.

“One thing that stopped me reopening for quite some time was that I didn’t want my children to go to work, and being in the restaurant and for that reason I didn’t want my staff to go in.”

“If that’s how I feel about my kids then that’s how I feel about the team.’

“It was a real struggle to make that decision,” she stated, before adding “I’m not going to lie; it was a real moral dilemma.”

“Thank Godwe’re very tight with our staff – we have a very good dialogue with the team with honest and open communication.’

Discussing reopening Tuscany for dine-in service at the start of July and the new protective measures put into place Sabrina admitted: “we went over the top a little bit. I think that we should be as cautious as we can and we need to be extreme.”

“I think adaptability is critical, it is the keyword for survival. We have to adapt. Whatever plans we have for the future we have to take all of this into account.”

Safety procedures put into place included a temperature scanner at the door, a ‘red dot’ policy to remind staff of high content areas which needed excess cleaning, signage, sanitiser on the tables and at entry points and removing half their tables to abide by social distancing rules.

Concerning the economic impact of such measures, she stated “it was worth every penny and I’d do it again.”

She admitted “There is a huge cost to it and I’d absolutely hate to do an exercise where we added up all the COVID related costs over the past few months because it would actually probably frighten me.”

At time of writing this article, Sabrina had five huge heaters installed outside Tuscany for outdoor dining in compliance with Level 3.

However, since the interview was conducted, owing to Level 5 measures it may be sometime before these heaters are used.

Level 5 means Sabrina and the team are solely relying on take-away and their new DIY Kits which they brought in at the start of the first lockdown.

‘With the DIY kits we were trying to introduce novel fun and interesting gifts that people could give to friends, families or buy for themselves. We have about 10 different options – there are cocktail kits, different kinds of food kits and hampers.’

Whiskey Sour Cocktail DIY Kit: Photo Credit: Tuscany Bistro
Christmas Hamper – Photo Credit: Tuscany Bistro

Discussing how she herself has been dealing on a personal level she admitted that “It’s not been easy.”

“It’s new territory. It’s new emotions because we’ve never experienced this level of vulnerability before. It’s been a massive mental challenge.’

“How have I got through it? Well, to be honest, I pray a lot and that helps me. I’ve got a great network around me.”

“I suppose it’s just having the faith to know that this is going to be resolved. This isn’t going to be life forever – there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

“I’m positive about the future; I really am. I’m positive about life, about Tuscany.”

“I think Limerick as a community, is phenomenal.”

‘Limerick people stick together, they support each other. It’s so encouraging and heart-warming to see it. I see it every single day, not just from my team but from customers, from suppliers – there’s a level of unity.”

“Things like that inspire me, things like that make me think and motivate me to keep going.’

To see Tuscany’s take away menu click here and to order a DIY kit click here.

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