EATON — The Bistro at Eagles Point has served its last meal.
Board members announced last month the Bistro will not reopen after being closed for nearly two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With its Pay it Forward approach, the Bistro struggled to maintain a profit since opening in May of 2017.
“We have never been successfully able to break even,” board member Mary Bullen said. “We’ve never been close to breaking even in spite of generous donors, sponsors and those people who were able to pay it forward. When COVID caused the closing it seemed like a good time to make that hard decision. And it was very hard.”
After Governor Mike DeWine ordered restrictions on restaurant establishments due to the coronavirus in mid-March, allowing only delivery or carry-out services, Bistro management chose not to do either due to risk for employees.
“Our staff was unable to consider that because they had immune concerns or close contact to family members who were working in an environment where COVID was a high risk,” Bullen said. “We really wanted to.”
Bullen said the board made changes to make the business model work.
“We made some efforts to be more successful but they never made a significant difference,” she said. “We moved to Sundays. We tried a delivery for local manufacturing companies. We called it the Bistro Express, but that didn’t really work out for us either.”
Bullen said the Bistro served over 2,000 meals for people in need in addition to 35 community meals, which served more than 6,000 people, all of which were free due to generous donations.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how they were,” Bullen said of the community meal program. “People loved coming to them. We had great food.”
Bullen said the purpose of the business model was to give county residents a chance to get a meal at a lower rate and be a place where residents to gather.
“Our goal was to do an affordable meal but to have a place where the community could come together, build relationships and celebrate community. We’re part of Eagles Point and that’s what we believe a strength of Preble County is,” she said. “We made a positive impact on people that came in who felt good about paying it forward eating there and the environment that we created.”
Bullen said the board is looking at other avenues.
“We’re now talking about is there another concept that would allow us to have the same goals and values, but be sustainable,” she said. “That would be considering more hours, more days, evening meals and even a potential liquor license so we could serve beer and wine during restaurant hours. We do believe that the need for a restaurant like the Bistro, take home meals, affordable family style is going to actually increase. We are open to suggestions and thoughts from the community.”
Bullen said the board is appreciative of everyone who contributed.
“The whole board is very grateful to all our donors, our sponsors, our dedicated volunteers who have created a community resource that helped make Preble County a great place to live,” she said. “It’s shown the positive side how we want to be. We’re just very grateful to everybody that was involved. A lot of people appreciated and loved the Bistro and we’re sorry to disappoint a lot of people.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.