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Challenges continue for restaurants in Connecticut, as they set the tables for months ahead

A recent survey released by the Connecticut Restaurant Association found that 88% of restaurant owners felt the COVID-19 Delta variant dampened their businesses.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Colder temperatures coming in a matter of weeks, staffing issues and rising costs – that's the taste of reality for many Connecticut restaurant owners.

A recent survey released by the Connecticut Restaurant Association found that 88% of restaurant owners felt the COVID-19 Delta variant dampened their businesses.

RELATED: This restaurant was designed to be low-staff. COVID mandates meant it had to hire more people.

Furthermore, 91% of restaurant owners surveyed said their profitability was down since the Delta variant took hold. 48% of restaurant owners say they believe it will be 12 months or more before thing returns to normal.

"We try to think we’re in recovery, but 75% of the restaurants that took the survey said they’re down from these numbers, their margins are tighter and their costs are rising," Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association said. "So that’s the concern I have and I worry about the next 6 months for our industry." 

In the Elwood section of West Hartford, Xiormara Zamudio, a co-owner of popular Frida on New Britain Avenue said she hopes they can hold on to their two dozen employees once the weather gets colder and they lose their patio area/

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“We just have to keep working inside,” Zamudio said. “We hope we have good take-out and we hope we have a good winter.”

Dino Cialfi, the owner of Peppercorns Grill in downtown Hartford, said he had to do away with his weekday lunches since so many downtown companies no longer have staff at their offices.

“Nobody is here,” Cialfi said.

Peppercorns does have a loyal dinner following – they have been in Hartford for 32 years. Cialfi’s hope is that he can weather the next six months and see more profits in the Spring.

“Support downtown Hartford and support our restaurants,” Cialfi said.

"I think the next five to six months are critical," Dolch added. "If people look at restaurants and say I need to support them and I need to get out and support my local business any way that I can.”

RELATED: After the floods, restauranteurs rally for Farmington farm

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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