Michael Matrinko has a message to his patrons and friends at the New Brown Jug: “Make sure you’re well, make sure you’re healthy, because after we get through this, I’ll still be serving pizza and beer and Chelsea will be strong.”
Like all restaurant owners in Chelsea operating during the coronavirus crisis, Matrinko is handling takeout orders and deliveries only. While there have many calls each day for the Jug’s trademark pizzas and salads, there has been a substantial dropoff in sales with the bar and dining area closed.
“I’ve laid off nine bartenders, four waitresses, and two hostesses and I had to cut back all the hours in the kitchen,” related Matrinko. “I had never laid off anybody before in 31 years.”
Matrinko said last week a lot of his “Friday night regulars” picked up their pizzas to go. The customers were greeted warmly as usual, but from a distance. There were no handshakes or other up-close greetings.
“More people are asking for the curbside, no-contact type of situation,” said Matrinko.
He said “the uncertainty factor” about when the crisis will end is weighing heavily on the minds of his customers.
“It [the unknown] is just playing big time with everybody,” said Matrinko. “It’s scary. This is very, very frightening. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I listen to the news, like everybody else – originally it was April 6, now they’re talking Easter (April 12). Realistically I would be happy if we opened up two months from now in mid-May.”