Locally-owned restaurants battle stress and uncertainty during the pandemic

Illinois

STAUNTON, Ill. – As the pandemic drags on, restaurants in the St. Louis area are juggling more than just day-to-day operations. They’re also doing their best to manage the mounting stress.

The Cavataio family knows first-hand. Angela Cavatio’s parents have been in the business for more than three decades. And the last few months have been the most challenging.

Like all eateries in the Metro East, Cavataio’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Staunton, Illinois has been subject to strict Covid restrictions. The dining room has remained shut down.

“It’s kind of what our normal is right now. It’s drive-thru and pick up,” Angela Cavataio said.

And while the work has kept them busy, it’s also forced the Cavataios – like all workers in the restaurant industry- to adapt to changes.

“It’s been hard. It’s been stressful. It’s high anxiety. We don’t know week to another what’s going to happen,” she said.

Governor J.B. Pritzker’s new Tier-3 restrictions for businesses went into effect Friday. While the rules won’t change the operations for the Cavataios, they nonetheless affect all workers.

“We’re just hoping everyone stays safe. We’re doing everything we can do to keep ourselves safe and our employees and customers safe,” Elisa Nicholas, Angela’s sister, said.

The restaurant was first featured on FOX 2 in the summer. The family was providing free pizzas to children when schools in Macoupin County were closed for the summer.

In a short period, the family had donated well over 1,000 pizzas to children.

Angela Cavataio said it was the family’s way of giving back to the community that has supported the restaurant.

Months later, she said she is still thankful that customers come to show their loyalty.

“Every single week we have our regulars come in. They’re always like keep the change, which is always super nice,” she said.

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