Storrs businesses adjust as students return to campus

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Storrs businesses have been adjusting to new business practices as University of Connecticut students return to campus for the fall semester.  

Ahmet (Matt) Akkus, owner of Husky Pizza, said that the past few months have been difficult for the establishment. He said that the restaurant had to close early back in mid-March as they adjusted to the lack of student business.  

“We had to evaluate the past six months, ever since students left for home because of COVID-19 in mid-March. After the students left, we had to close early,” Akkus said.  

Akkus said that this caused Husky Pizza to lose about 60% of its business. This is not unusual and every business in the area has experienced similar losses, he said. 

“Well, I’ve heard five thousand [students] came on campus, but i don’t feel like it.”

 “When they switched the classes online, we lost approximately 60% of business,” Akkus said. “It’s not only us as Husky Pizza; everyone who runs a business in the area got hurt.”  

Akkus said that he has not seen a major improvement to business even with the return of students. He said that current sales mirror the sales of the past few months.  

“Well, I’ve heard five thousand [students] came on campus, but I don’t feel like it,” Akkus said. “Our sales are almost the same as before they came back.”  

Akkus said that he feels there may be too many businesses competing for limited student sales. He believes that this existing issue is what has pushed some businesses to close their doors recently.  

“Even before the global virus, our sales were going down too because of too many restaurants in one spot… so how can we survive? There are several places that are already gone or had to close,” Akkus said.  

Khaldoun Mahmoud, owner of Gansett Wraps, spoke about similar issues. Mahmoud said that business is still slow despite the fact that students have returned to campus.  

“Business is still slow at the moment,” Mahmoud said. “While we are seeing more customers now, the average order isn’t as big as during the summertime, so we’re seeing about the same business when it comes to revenue intake.”  

Mahmoud said that despite the slower than usual business, he and his wife have been able to hire student workers that they did not have over the summer. Additionally, they have been able to open on Sundays as well, something that they did not do over the summer.  

“With school having started back up and more customers coming in, we’ve been able to bring back most of our workers from before and hire a couple new members,” Mahmoud said. “We’ve also been able to open on Sundays, contrary to the summer months where we had used it as a day to rest.”  

Mahmoud touched on the changing customer demographics now that students have returned to campus. He said that their primary patrons over the summer, Storrs-Mansfield residents, have largely been replaced by students.  

“We’ve lost many of the locals who now are wary of the college students who come in and pose a higher risk to them,” Mahmoud said. “For those that do still come, they don’t come as often and choose to do curbside pickup rather than in-store pickup.”  

Mahmoud spoke about the importance of working as a community to keep each other safe. He said that Gansett Wraps will do what it can to provide its customers with a comfortable and safe environment.  

“Here at Gansett, we believe that we must work with the community to keep each other safe, so we will continue to do regular cleaning in our restaurant so that our patrons/neighbors don’t feel the need to worry when eating,” Mahmoud said. “After all, we’re all in this together and will overcome this together, as well.”  

“After all, we’re all in this together and will overcome this together, as well.”  

“Here at Gansett, we believe that we must work with the community to keep each other safe, so we will continue to do regular cleaning in our restaurant so that our patrons/neighbors don’t feel the need to worry when eating,” Mahmoud said. “After all, we’re all in this together and will overcome this together, as well.”  

Both Husky Pizza and Gansett Wraps offer a mix of in-person dining, online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery. 

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