COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — A fairly new restaurant, Boxer Barbeque is a place known for its Texas-style dry rub barbecue.
"We pride ourselves that our meat is smoked meat, our meat is not BBQ'ed meat," said owner Renae Dieatrick. "So it's not smothered in sauce; you can taste the flavor of the meat instead of just the sauce."
The restaurant just moved to its new location near main and 5th Ave. on October 1.
"Since we've moved, the location is so much better, and so we've almost tripled our business from the other location," said Dieatrick. "And we were just getting rolling really well in getting bookings for our banquet hall upstairs; we were getting a lot of class reunions downstairs. Things were rolling really well down here when the pandemic hit."
When they were forced to close their dine-in option in mid March, Dieatrick says they panicked.
"We didn't know what was going to happen with the restaurant," Dieatrick said. "We didn't know if we would survive this. We had a lot of employees that this was their sole income. We didn't know what was going to happen with the employees. And it was really sad."
Focusing solely on takeout, business got slower.
"It was a very slow process, and it's still a lot slower than what we have hoped," Dieatrick said. "On the weekends, we get a little more business than during the week."
"A lot of our business is catering, and now that people can't do the big events, the weddings have been canceled, even the funerals," Dieatrick said. "People are having 10 people at a time, and so all those events being canceled really hurt us. So without the takeout, we would really be in a lot of trouble."
Now they are open for dine-in again.
"The places where you see the reserved signs, are places where we will not seat customers," Dieatrick explained. "So we're setting the customers six feet apart. And even at our big table we're putting three chairs in between the groups of people and keeping the parties under six people or less."
In Iowa, it's not required for restaurant employees to wear masks.
"We left it up to our employees whether they wanted to wear a mask or not," Dieatrick said. "Most of them chose not to. So when we ask our customers about the mask, most of them said they wouldn't be coming here if they felt like they weren't safe. So they didn't care if we wore masks or not."
In order to keep capacity down, Boxer Barbeque is pushing for more curbside service.
"Like on Friday night, that's our busy prime rib night," Dieatrick said. "So now that we have the 50% capacity, it's a little bit harder to do the takeout because we have to take most of it out the door on Fridays, because they can't wait in here while customers are in here because we'd be over capacity."
Dieatrick says with the economic impact the pandemic has had on their newer restaurant, they need to keep their doors open and is hopeful they'll be able to go to 100% capacity soon.
"I'm hoping that it's coming to an end," Dieatrick said. "I really don't know what the governor is going to say next. Every day we're holding our breath - hoping she's going to open it up fully, but yet, we're concerned that if we get too many people in here... is someone going to get sick? We definitely don't want that to happen either. So we're just taking it a day at a time and seeing how things go."
LOCATION: 513 S Main St. Council Bluffs, IA 51503
HOURS: Monday - CLOSED
Tuesday - Thursday: 11AM - 9PM
Friday & Saturday: 11AM - 11PM
Sunday: 11AM - 7PM
Dine-in, takeout, catering