A note from Brian Torres, co-owner of Fork & Dagger in Savannah, GA
This is a situation no one could have ever imagined would happen. Fork & Dagger Eatery on Abercorn was ready to celebrate its three-year anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day, which everyone knows is an incredibly busy week in Savannah and also marks the start of the busiest season we all enjoy in our beautiful city. We also were happily celebrating our first year of being open at our Latin Diner (the old Bobbie’s Diner), for which we were about to apply for a beer/wine license and finally begin to be profitable in our second year. Then things went belly up.
Here we are now, almost a month after the decision to cancel the parade, and we are still adjusting to things day by day. We are, I guess you can say, fortunate that we have two very small restaurants that we designed to be able to be run by a small staff. We also have menus similar enough that we realized that we would have to close one restaurant immediately (The Diner) to pull all our resources over to the Eatery and keep almost all our staff working. We’re not making a profit, but there’s enough flow for us to continue to open our doors until aid arrives.
It has been quite a change from our normally very busy breakfast/lunch business to what we are doing now. There are no tourists, no locals working in all the offices, and of course no SCAD administrators and students. We have adjusted things to now focus more on family meals and wholesaling our cheesecakes. We are actually about to change our hours to 11 AM–5 PM so that we can focus more on our family meals and hopefully build our sales a bit more.
There are some great things that have been coming out of these scary times. I have been working hard to keep in close contact with many small business owners and managers to see if any of us can do something for the other. An owner of another restaurant recommended the best local small refrigeration repairman to me. I have still been trying to get as much produce as possible from the local farm, Kachina Farms, but I also text others to see who can help make sure the farm doesn’t lose produce and so they can get ready with new plantings for whenever this situation turns. In that same spirit of comradery, in these last three weeks in order to keep my staff working I have three new restaurants (Rocky’s Deli, Squirrel’s Pizza, and Le Café Gourmet) all carrying our cheesecakes. Le Café Gourmet is also now making the bread for our French toast, grilled cheeses, and BLTs.
The last incredible show of locals working for Savannah was initiated by Courtney Victor of Glow Medical Spa: she wanted to try and get at least 200 thank-you bags to our incredible nurses. I heard about it and figured I might be able to help and get some other people involved. I started making calls and I was so excited to get a great response. On top of the businesses that had already donated at Courtney’s request, I ended up recruiting Fork & Dagger (of course), Rocky’s NY Deli, Squirrel’s Pizza, Marché de Macarons, Le Café Gourmet, and Fox and Fig. All gave discount cards or something free, so whenever this is finally over and these hospital workers actually have a day or two off they can come enjoy our little restaurants.
I am extremely proud of everything I see going on in Savannah right now. There are a lot of businesses that are struggling harder than ever before; there are so many people waiting on unemployment checks, stimulus checks, or SBA loans. The scary part is that when these things come in more places still might be forced to close, and almost inevitably many of these small businesses won’t reopen when things turn around.
I love Savannah: she is my home and my family is very involved in all sides of what goes on here. I pray for everyone to make it through this—stay healthy and safe!