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'We could have gone under' | COVID-19's impact on the St. Louis food scene

5 On Your Side’s Abby Llorico sat down — from afar — with four local foodies for a special two-part episode series on the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast

ST. LOUIS — One year ago Wednesday, St. Louis area leaders announced hard-to-stomach safety measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. At the time, it was thought they’d only last a couple weeks, maybe a month.

For the restaurant industry, it’s meant enough pivots to make you dizzy, even stumble and fall down. But they’re getting back on their feet.

5 On Your Side’s Abby Llorico sat down — from afar — with four local foodies for a special two-part episode series on the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast. They talked about what happened, what comes next and how the restaurant industry can and must recover after a year tabled.

“How much of your job in the past year has been not even making sure the food looks good when it goes out or the drinks taste good or the environment is nice, and just navigating the rules, the laws, the policies?” Abby asked over a group Zoom interview.

Credit: KSDK

“I would say 95%,” said Tara Gallina, co-owner of Vicia. “I mean, I think 5% of my life has been like normal food- and beverage-related business, which is sad in some ways.”

“Without the PPP loan, and that's a scary thing to say — Mai Lee has been in business for 35 years — we could have gone under in a blink of an eye,” said Qui Tran, who also owns Nudo House. “And I mean, I never thought of something like that, but this has opened my eyes up.”

“There's no real resource for restaurants to go and say, 'OK, here's the checklist of all the different things that you can to take advantage of. And here's the simplest way to do it.' It just takes a ton of time,” added Russell Ping, the owner and chef behind Russell’s Café.

“The level of uncertainty we were expecting and what we got were different things,” said Kyle Kohlmorgen, head brewer and founder of Wellspent Brewing.

You can watch the full conversation in the YouTube video below and hear more from the interview by downloading and subscribing to the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast. Part 1 of the conversation was released Thursday, March 18 and Part 2 will come out Thursday, March 25.


About the Abby Eats St. Louis podcast:

The Abby Eats St. Louis podcast tells the story of St. Louis based on what’s on the table. From the hunger for local ingredients, to the booming brunch scene and the craving for creative cocktails, Abby dives into the nitty-gritty of how St. Louis grew to become the foodie town that it is. 

Subscribe and download weekly episodes for free wherever you get your podcasts. We've included links below to some of the most popular podcast platforms.

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify Stitcher TuneIn Castbox

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