Despite the possibility of an extended shutdown, ownership and management at Sam’s Southern Eatery say they’re committed to remaining in the Emporia area for the foreseeable future.
Signs were posted at the 1116 W. 6th Ave. location earlier this week stating the restaurant would be “temporarily closed” but “reopening in February” due to COVID-related reasons.
In a Wednesday phone interview, Emporia Franchisee Said “Sammy” Jaraba told The Gazette that a target return date had not been set — nor had any other plans — but that he was looking forward to continuing to serve members of the community.
“We opened to stay,” Jaraba said. “We didn’t open to leave. We’re just trying to save some of the losses. Like with a lot of other businesses in Emporia and everywhere else in the whole country, COVID has affected us in a bad way.”
In discussing the reason for the decision, Jaraba referenced the same safety and staffing challenges others in the food industry have faced during the pandemic, saying the situation at Sam’s had been compounded due to added financial struggles.
“Things were alright for us for a while with the dine-in seating, but we don’t have a drive through like others, which hurt us a bit, I think,” Jaraba said. “We do have the carryout, but we saw that go down, too, after the first months. People are still scared to go out and be out in public, so we hope more people are healthy and that a lot of people start to have the vaccine by next month.
“We recognized everybody’s concerns with safety and health and we kept doing our best there, but at the same time we recognized how bad it was getting on our end. So, we’re closing right now to stop the bleeding a little bit. Same as any restaurant, we have expenses to pay, and you have to do what you have to do to stay afloat during COVID.”
The Gazette will continue to provide updates to this situation as it develops.