Continuing to Pay Employees is Allies Deli & Catering’s Priority

Continuing to Pay Employees is Allies Deli & Catering’s Priority

Scott Robinson on keeping the institution of Allies open while Downtown turns into ghost town.

The lunch rush is dwindling at Allies Deli & Catering in Rand Tower—long a popular skyway destination for downtown workers. Even as more offices shift to working remotely to combat coronavirus, co-owner Scott Robinson says Allies is still open and will be for the foreseeable future.

And while the positives in a pandemic may be elusive, Robinson and co-owner Nicole Allie say their number one goal is to keep paying their roughly 13 employees. And in the midst of it all, the breakfast and lunch joint is finding creative ways to come together as a team.

TCB: How has your work changed or been disrupted by coronavirus?

Robinson: It’s been getting slower every day, because nobody’s coming to work.

And people can’t travel, they can’t gather, so we’re not doing much catering at all. And we’re open pretty much because I want to keep my people working. And we’re hoping to generate enough revenue to pay the people that I’ve got working for me. Or at least come close to it so it doesn’t cost 100 percent out of pocket.

Q: You’re able to be open because you do takeout?

A | We’re still offering takeout. (Mayor) Jacob Frey was in here yesterday saying “You guys are fine, and thanks for being open.” So we’ll continue to be open, until we’re directed to not be open.

Q: Do you do delivery?

A | We’ll deliver pretty much anywhere. Monday, I drove out to Plymouth with a cup of soup and three scotchie bars.

Q: Are you able to do anything right now to compensate for lost revenue or to create new streams of revenue?

A | No … Not that I can think of.

Q: Do you anticipate work bouncing back relatively quickly, or are you bracing for the worst going forward?

A | I’m hoping that this goes away as quickly as it came, and everybody’s healthy and happy, and we bounce right back.

Q: And are there any bright spots in all of this? Support from customers, innovations?

A | I can’t see any.

Other than, I don’t know, people can get complacent in life, and hopefully this will get more people to count their blessings not their problems, and be mindful, share, and be kind. And it kind of brings people together, you know? It shouldn’t take this for that to happen, but it does unite people. Of course, it’s dividing people too, with toilet paper becoming the new currency.

Q: Could you describe what it’s like right now at Allies? How are you folks keeping morale up, with it being so slow?

A | Well, we’ve been doing extra deep cleaning at a higher frequency than we used to, which we’ve always done. But yesterday we made hamburgers and fries, which aren’t even on our menu, but it’s a fun treat for the staff. Today we’re making shirts. We’re just doing fun things with the staff that are fun to do as a group. Things that we’d never have time to do in normal business, when we’re busy from open to close.

Q: T-shirts?
A | Yeah, my wife’s a big crafter, and we have a Cricket. It cuts out designs and then we can press them onto a shirt. But people are picking out their designs, and we’re cutting them out here. And just having all kinds of fun.