Scott and Sara Benoit, like so many other restaurant owners now, understand the difficulties of running a restaurant in the time of COVID.
As the owners of Bourbon Street, an American Grill restaurant in Monroe, they have had to adapt to COVID restrictions, a liquor license suspension, staff shortages, and even a week-long power outage that destroyed their inventory.
“It was definitely a 2020 to remember,” said Scott Benoit.
The couple run the restaurant together, with Sara running the day to day operations since Scott also works as a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department.
“If I’m not at the firehouse I’m at the restaurant,” he said.
They’ll be celebrating the restaurant’s 16th anniversary on May 20.
Liquor license incident
When COVID hit in early March, the couple had to adjust their business plan to adapt to Coronavirus restrictions like so many others. It wasn’t long until a state official suspended their liquor license for lack of social distancing.
Scott believes that they were being made an example of.
“The state fined us $10,000 and suspended our license for three months. The state official never spoke to us, didn’t give us a warning of any sort,” he said. “On top of our suspension and fine, I think the most upsetting part is the hypocrisy.”
The hypocrisy, he says, is that of large businesses like Wal-Mart and Shop-Rite, who were abiding by social distancing mandates, but also maintaining some of the largest crowds they’ve ever had since even before COVID.
“I don’t know why they were coming for small ma and pa shops,” Scott said, “when those businesses were still able to do business.”
And the problems didn’t stop there. After the three month liquor suspension was up, Bourbon Street’s power blew, and they were without power for a week. “We had to get rid of all of our food and inventory and completely restock.”
Scott said he couldn’t have done it without Sara and her constant hard work running operations daily. The couple also felt supported by the community throughout the hard times.
“You can only do so much if you don’t have regular business. The community definitely stood by us and supported us with to-go and pickup orders.”
Get Monroe going again
And now, with vaccinations beginning and even the weather looking up, the couple is excited for what is to come. They celebrate Bourbon Street’s 16th anniversary on May 20, where they plan to have their outdoor deck open and (hopefully) have their business back in full swing.
“Especially with the weather changing, people are starting to get out more. But we still have to abide by all the COVID rules, although those are lifting up right now,” Scott said. “They gave us 50 percent capacity and I think 75 percent capacity will be on March 19th.”
“Our restaurant is on the smaller side, so we’ll still have to remove some tables for 75 percent capacity, but we’ve got it taken care of.”
Scott and Sara hope to again hold outdoor events starting in the summertime, with their first event planned (for now) during the Monroe fireworks on July 3rd.
“We want to plan a large event, if everything plays out well, with a large tent, live music, and some food out there,” said Scott. “We just want to try and get Monroe going again.”
Order food to go at 845-782-8501 or visit Bourbon Street at 78 Millpond Parkway Monroe, N.Y., 10950 for indoor seating.