Rose Specter, left, and Tommy Specter, right, had to completely close down their restaurant for several weeks
during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their fantastic staff has been supportive of the updates and changes.
percent (occupancy), to tear down the
buffet,” Rose says. Even after the occupancy
stipulation rose to allowing 50 percent
seating, TR’s remained closed a few more
“We had quite a few discussions on our
curbside service. There is no way we could
put a drive-through in this place, we looked
at it every possible way,” she says.
Tommy said one of the issues with
the curbside service it that it is labor
intensive. Under the buffet concept TR’s
would normally operate with seven or
eight staffers per shift, but with curbside
operation that ratio rose to 10 or 11 workers
“We used to have 40-to-50 tables and
now we’re at 25 tables,” she says of capacity
during the reopening at the 50 percent of
As they made the change from the selfservice
buffet concept to more of a cafeteria
style service they hit obstacles in getting
sneeze guards made of glass or plexiglass
to make the transformation. Tommy went
online to gather ideas on how best to move
forward with a new business model.
The Specters worked with local
contractors and vendors with a lot of
changes as the plans evolved. “Food prices
were actually the highest they’ve every
been,” Tommy says. “For beef, my cost was
more than $5 a pound; brisket was in the
high sixes. Ribeye went from a little under
$6 to as much as $14 a pound.”
Rose says when they sold a ribeye steak
they were actually losing money on the sale.
“Chicken breast went extremely high,
we normally pay $30-to-$40 for a 40-pound
case and it went all the way to over $100 a
box,” she says. “It’s pretty sad when your
seafood costs less than chicken.”
At one point they were told the
contractor working on their remodeling
could not get the plexiglass needed to make
the revamped concept work and he said
it could be three to six months before he
could get it. That news was devastating —
but not a deal killer for their plans to reopen
on a scale beyond curbside service.
They got in touch with Center Glass
about using glass instead of plexiglass,
thinking the cost would be considerably
higher but it was not.
“Just the way everything has worked
out, I believe in the power of prayer and
this definitely has been a prayer situation. It
came in way under budget,” Rose says.
“We had an idea, but we kind of built
it as we went,” Tommy says. “We didn’t
know how we were going to get electricity
to the new serving lines. We had sneeze
guards custom made and probably had our
electrician out at least four or five times.”
Things had to be moved around as
they fine-tuned plans and adapted to fit the
space and the limitations.
“It’s still a work in progress,” he says.
Yet another part of their business
receiving a gut-punch with the pandemic
was their Endless Possibilities catering.
“It was dead. Everything was
cancelled,” Rose says. Some catering jobs
have come back, but not near to the precoronavirus
“Some of it is where we prep it up and
they come by and pick everything up and
serve it themselves with masks and gloves,”
she says. Tommy says a guiding principle
as they have moved forward with ever
changing plans has been a focus on safety
for both staff and customers.
“We were looking for guidance from
the health department but got none, they
were all working from home,” Rose says.
“They’re the ones who govern us, who
come in and tell us we have to be careful of
10 Business MATTERS | 2020 Fall Edition