The pandemic changed a lot of things, especially for those in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants reduced hours, struggled with staff shortages or had to close completely.
Piggy’s Restaurant in downtown La Crosse recently opened their soup and salad lunch buffet for the first time since the pandemic.
Owner and chef Chris Roderique told BizCast Greater La Crosse that the main reason for waiting to re-open for lunch was the decline in people working downtown — their main lunch clientele.
“There are so many businesses that are still remote, it’s a challenge,” Roderique said. “Do you open for lunch and hope for the best? When pre-pandemic you had 3,000 people within walking distance of you.”
The BizCast podcast can be found on the WIZM website here. New episodes come on Fridays.
Closing for lunch wasn’t the only thing that changed for Piggy’s during the pandemic. It renovated the downstairs lounge and closed the upstairs dining room. Roderique created a hybrid menu with favorites from both the upstairs restaurant and the lounge.
That menu is still constantly changing; one of the challenges post-pandemic has been getting reliable and affordable products, and supply chain issues have made that difficult.
“You are constantly adjusting,” Roderique explained. “You’re trying to find ways to deliver a great product with managing your expenses. That’s the tough part. Now, I mean, expenses are murdering people out there.”
After closing the upstairs dining room, Roderique decided to lease the space to Mitch Weber, a chef who worked for Roderique off and on for over 10 years.
Weber used the upstairs space to open a restaurant of his own — an Italian restaurant named Sagra, which is currently open Saturdays and Sundays.
“We’re really proud of him,” Roderique said. “A long time ago that was my dream, so I’m happy to be able to help him out.”
Piggy’s is open for lunch Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5-9: p.m.