DISHING UP INNOVATION
By Laura Leite Telescope News
(Fifth in a series. The pandemic has been a challenge for Republic county restaurants. Many found innovative ways to serve and support the community they call home. Over the next few weeks, the Telescope will take a closer look at local restaurants and how they have persevered.)
Doug Parks purchased the Bel-Villa Family Dining restaurant in 2010 but he has been in the restaurant business for over 50 years. Before purchasing the Bel-Villa, Parks was the owner and manager of the Wagon Wheel Café in Marysville.
Parks said, “While I was at the Wagon Wheel, people wanted me to purchase the Bel-Villa 10 years before I did, but I didn’t want to run two restaurants at once. Once I sold the Wagon Wheel, I decided to purchase the Bel-Villa.”
“When COVID hit, it wasn’t easy,” said Parks. “I made sure that I signed up for payroll protection to keep my employees.”
“When we were shut down and carry-out only, we might as well have just shut the doors because it cut down business quite a bit,” Parks says. “ I think people were so scared that they just stayed home and didn’t know what to do.
“Some of our most popular items for carry-out were the burgers and steaks but we had the full menu available. We’d have a good day, and we’d have a bad day, probably more bad days than good days.”
Business started to pick up in the summer, Parks says.
“Around October/November when COVID hit again, we started slowing down because there wasn’t the normal highway traffic and the cold spell added to the decline. We closed in the afternoons to save some money in personnel costs,” he says.
“Since the cold weather went away and people became acclimated, things have been back to the normal amount of business,” said Parks.
“I enjoy meeting the public and once someone finds us, they become repeat customers as they go through the area going to Texas and Arizona for the winter,” Parks says. “That traffic was way down this year, we probably didn’t have a quarter of the number of people we usually do going south this year.”
“Right now, we are starting to see people going on vacation to visit their kids they haven’t seen in six months to a year.” “Our burgers and steaks are some of the favorites and once customers try the tri-tip they usually order it again,” said Parks.
“Our buffalo is also popular; the buffalo ribeye and burger are often requested.”
The Bel-Villa also features homemade pies and cherry cheesecake. The Bel-Villa is returning to regular hours of Monday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Follow Bel-Villa on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Bel-Villa-Family-Dining-521994497877148