UPLAND (Inside INdiana Business) - An iconic restaurant in Grant County is returning to its roots to serve customers despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Ivanhoes in the town of Upland would normally serve customers inside its dining room, but with the "to-go only" order from Governor Eric Holcomb, the restaurant has reverted to its original model when it opened in 1965.
"When we opened, all we had was a little awning up front and a counter that you'd step up to and you would order your meal and then wait for it to be prepared," said General Manager Mark Souers. "And then you'd either enjoy it outside or in your car."
With social distancing becoming the new norm, Ivanhoes' parking lot is looking a lot like it did in the 1960s. Souers says when the order to refrain from allowing dine-in customers came in, he didn't want that to be a negative.
"I was like, 'Let's not let this be a downer.' This is what we were built upon. In 1965, we didn't have dining rooms and so we decided to make the best out of it."
Souers says customers have responded in a big way, forcing the restaurant to add a second phone line to handle the influx of call-in orders. However, Souers says sales are still below where they should be this time of year.
"We're down quite a bit from what we should be doing but for the most part, we're doing pretty good."
Ivanhoe's employee Jessica Whitaker tells Around Indiana reporter Mary-Rachel Redman says keeping the restaurant open creates a sense of normalcy for many customers.
"If people didn't come in, we'd have to shut our doors and I think a lot of people know that. And I think they come in because it gives you a feeling that something's a little normal. 'I can still go to Ivanhoes. I can still get my ice cream. I can still get my tenderloin.' It's just a little breath of fresh air, I think, to everybody."