By Isi Frank Ativie
The Black community has shown resiliency through epic socioeconomic catastrophes in this nation for over four centuries. But in the last two months, local businesses in Black America have been impacted more than ever before with the emergence of the COVID-19 virus. The restaurant industry has been especially hard hit.
However, Lenice Levy found a way for her restaurant, Good to Go Jamaican Cuisine in Evanston to survive.
The franchise was ordered to officially shut down the dining room section on March 21. Since then the restaurant has lost over 60-70 percent of its revenues, an unfortunate casualty of the corona virus and a far cry from what she generated last year.
Good to Go started as a carry-out business in 2003 in the Rogers Park community on Howard Street, found ed by her Jamaican immigrant husband Tony. They are now located on the Evanston border directly across Howard Street from the previous location in Rogers Park. The franchise recently celebrated its two-year anniversary at the new location on April 13.
The restaurant is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They’re currently operating on carry-outs and deliveries, as well as online deliveries. Their main entrance has temporarily been converted to accommodate carry-out orders. This franchise is competing with online food ordering and delivery platforms including Uber Eats and Grubhub on commissions.
“It’s been a little challenging just because in the beginning, people didn’t know we were open,” Levy said. “So we really try to get the message out there that we’re open. And we just kind of went through the whole process of figuring out what we can do to make it work.”
Levy also eliminated six to eight of her staff members within a two-month span due to the pandemic. According to Levy, “It really hurts having to let some of the staff go. The ones that we ended up being able to keep on board have families.”
Despite the personal dilemmas, the restaurant co-owner still manages to donate food to hospitals in her community such as St. Francis and the North Shore University HealthSystem in Evanston. Levy also donates food to local school teachers at the Rice Education Center. And she devoted more of her time to provide 145 lunches to a senior living facility in Evanston.
Levy and husband Tony recently started a GoFundMe campaign online to raise money for their current employees; they have reached up to $500 to date.
Good to Go is one of the popular restaurants in Evanston and was reviewed by Hungry Hound from WLS 890AM.
“We had some great days, we had some challenging days,” Levy said.
The Levys are anticipating the government’s order to officially reopen dine-in restaurants nationwide in late June.