For this installment of our daily Q&A with a restaurant owner navigating the COVID-19 emergency, we hear from Nick Martschenko, chef-owner of South End and SE Uncorked. South End is open 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday. (SE Uncorked’s building is closed and the business is operating out of South End on Pine Street.)
We note here that Martschenko created a relief fund to help South End and SE Uncorked employees affected by layoffs. “These funds will be used to help those at SE & UC who will face significant hardship in the weeks and maybe months to come,” he said on a GoFundMe page that is hosting the fundraiser.
Here’s our exchange.
New Canaanite: What has this past week been like for you?
Nick Martschenko: This week has been a mystery basket filled with many emotions. We have cried, we have smiled, we have prioritized our lives professionally and personally.
How is you faring business-wise?
We have closed Uncorked for the time being and are operating out of South End at this time. There are many influences on all small businesses but none harder that’s the margins of the service industry. We are all in this together. One team one family.
How would you gauge your ability to outlast this?
We remain optimistic however, we cannot depend simply on the generosity of our community alone. We are calling on the government to include independent business as part of the federal stimulus plan in proportion to the number of people in our industry. 7 million+ jobs lost in our industry already.
How is your staff?
Everyday seems to be a bit different but as a whole we are optimistic and spirits are remaining positive. I have set up a relief fund through GoFundMe for South End & Uncorked employees and operations. If you would like to donate you can go to our Instagram there is a link in our bio to donate @Southendnewcanaan.
What have you been hearing from customers during this time?
We are getting words of encouragement from all sorts of customers and friends as well as from the NC Chamber. New Canaan wants their restaurants and stores to remain the same and they are letting us no.
What have your most popular menu items been since switching to outside pickup?
We have seen a good response to our “food kits for families.” It usually consists of a loaf of our house made sourdough, a house salad, daily vegetable, and a main for example lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs, fried chicken, chicken pot pie, grilled fish and finished with warm chocolate chip cookies.
What is your message for customers? We would like to take a moment to tell each and every one of our loyal customers how grateful we are to have your support. In return my team and I are working endlessly to provide service to our customers in a safe and healthy environment. Some steps we are taking are: only allowing our employees in the restaurant. Deliveries are being received outside We continue to maintain cdc guidelines. We are consciously washing our hands and sanitizing surfaces. Thank you.
• Sign up for an appointment for drive-thru testing for COVID-19 here.
• Here’s a link to a page on the town’s website that includes information on COVID-19 and a link to sign up for New Canaan’s emergency outcall system.
• Here is the updated list of what is open and closed in New Canaan.
• Here’s a link to the New Canaan Office of Emergency Management Facebook page.