NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As if COVID-19 wasn't enough to thwart diners on Valentine's Day, cold weather is keeping many Nashville couples at home.
Nationally, just 24% of consumers planned to celebrate Valentine's with an evening out, according to National Retail Federation. Rising COVID-19 cases and continued restrictions on indoor dining across the country, has caused many consumers to swap the romantic night out for an at-home meal.
At Nicky's Coal Fired in The Nations, the restaurant owners do not know what to expect in the restaurant at dinnertime, but know to-go orders look good, despite the bad weather.
"It doesn't seem to have deterred our Valentine's Day orders," said Caroline Galzin, owner and director of operations. "We take pre-orders for take-out and we still have a pretty robust take-out schedule for the evening."
Caroline Galzin owns the restaurant with her husband Tony, the executive chef.
For Valentine's Day, the restaurant is making pizzas in the shape of a heart.
The restaurant has managed to stay open for all the holidays over the past year, despite the trying pandemic.
"I actually think it's really important to let other small business owners know this isn't a walk in the park for us either. We are also struggling and it's OK to say things aren't great," Caroline said.
Although Nicky's specializes in pizza, take-out was not as popular before the pandemic.
"Because of our specific location in The Nations...we're still a growing neighborhood. A lot of the delivery systems and apps where you go to get take-out options are based on geotagging. Because the population is not as large, we haven't historically had as robust of a take-out business as we have had this year," Caroline said.
Now, to-go orders account for half of their sales compared to 10% before the pandemic.
The restaurant owners said being able to pivot has helped them stay afloat.
"We started making bagels in the morning to add a new revenue stream and it's really really caught on," Tony said.
Currently, the restaurant is only opening four days a week to remain profitable.
"Nobody gets into the restaurant business to be a millionaire. People get into this business because they have a love and passion for it as Tony, my husband, and I really do and our staff does as well. People get so much joy from dining out or eating great food," Caroline said.