DeGidio’s is an icon of the West 7th neighborhood, known and loved throughout St. Paul, but it was still surprising when a heartfelt Facebook post yesterday, went viral. The post was simply asking the restaurant’s fans to support businesses in the area. It has since been shared over 2,700 times and according to the DeGidio’s family, it’s been viewed by something like 300,000 people.
“The restaurant business is like a boat at sea with a bunch of holes. You just work on fixing the biggest holes first and hope you don’t sink. The seas are rough for all of us independent restaurants at the moment and our boats are sinking,” the post reads.
Jason Tschida of DeGidio’s said he was speaking with his social media manager earlier today. “What... happened?,” he laughed. “It was nice.”
The motivation of the post was simply to draw attention to DeGidio’s neighboring businesses, neighborhood bars like Skinner’s, chef-run spots like Pajarito, fellow icons of the area like Mancini’s Steakhouse or Cossetta’s, the multi-level Italian market and restaurant. “I think there’s a common misperception that everyone competes, but we’re very friendly. I talk to Dave Cossetta five to six times a week. It’s devastating what’s happening to these businesses.”
Tschida said these restaurants are only able to continue to operate because of take out orders. “Our customers are our biggest allies.”
While Minnesota state lawmakers passed legislation this morning to provide more aid to struggling restaurants, and extend unemployment past the day-after-Christmas deadline set by the federal government, it hasn’t been enough. Tschida spoke with one restaurant professional this week that is down to $21 in their bank account that needs to stretch for the next two weeks.
Even while small, independently owned restaurants struggle, owners are reaching out to help each other and their under-or unemployed staff. Preparing just food for take out orders and sending meals to those that need it.
But rather than complain or send up more doom and gloom, DeGidio’s is just asking customers, the same ones who have kept them serving giant meatballs on top of spaghetti for 87 years, to continue to do what has made all the difference: order take out, but order not just from them. Instead, they are asking for the support of their neighborhood, one that is rich in restaurants.
“During the week is the worst for most restaurants: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays. That’s why we put that up on a Monday,” said Tschida. “Our whole intention is about all these restaurants - all my friends - we’re limited on how long we can do this. Go to the place you normally go. Keep it going.” He pauses, “Which is hard to ask - it is tough - incomes are down. Unemployment is rising, but... that is what is saving us right now.”