For today’s Q&A with a local business, we talk to Ritta Haralabidis, a manager at New Canaan Diner. The diner is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days per week for curbside pickup and delivery, with services including Uber Eats and Door Dash. Haralabidis during our interview noted that New Canaan families preparing for graduations can use the diner for catering needs.
Here’s our exchange.
New Canaanite: How are you doing at New Canaan Diner? It’s been tough out there.
Ritta Haralabidis: It has been tough. It’s been really tough. We are doing pretty much what everybody else is doing. We are receiving orders, packing them and staying safe. We wear gloves and masks and there are only two people working front of house and two people working back of house at one time. They have specific places where they work to stay out of each other’s ways. We talk regularly pretty regularly about how we are doing, how we’re feeling, keeping tabs on each other like most people are doing.
What has the community response been like?
It’s been OK. I don’t know if people are just cooking more at home. It hasn’t been crazy busy. But I guess there are plenty of options, too—it’s New Canaan, so you can go anywhere and eat, which is nice. A lot of our business had to to with activities—the dance studio across the street—and a lot people are not doing that any more, so it cut down on a need we met, when people were in transition between activities. Or giving pep a place to go after an event or show—that was another need we met. So now it’s just people picking up stuff.
What are they asking for, mostly?
Breakfast sandwiches, burgers, salads, chicken sandwiches. And milkshakes are still popular, which is fun.
We don’t know how long these restrictions will last—the governor has signaled that, depending on how things go, outdoor dining at restaurants could open by the end of the month. With that said, what is your sense now of New Canaan Diner’s ability to outlast this crisis?
It will be fine with the outdoor dining, like you just said. We have plenty of seating outside. We could fit 25 people outside, so now maybe we will be allowed 12 and we will figure out how to do that, and we will do it. Forest Street, it’s ‘restaurant row’ with the outdoor dining. We also have that nice little park by us, with benches. Maybe someone will want to add an additional bench so people can sit there safely and talk across to one another.
What is your message for customers?
Just to be optimistic that we are going to get through this. Stay focused on being your best self during this time and see how you can pull it off, whether you’re at home or out and about. Best the best you. Isn’t that what we are all striving for, if we have any sense right now? We have to pull this off so we can go on and be safe and maintain sanity. Be well, it’s everybody’s goal.