The Effects of COVID-19 on Paul’s Diner


Unnati Bhat

Owner of Paul’s Diner, Sal Buonacore, stands in front of Paul’s Diner sign.

Unnati Bhat, Social Media Manager/Staff Writer

Sal Buonacore has been the owner of Paul’s Diner since June 29th, 2018. Being a small business owner in Westford has brought various benefits and challenges. With COVID-19 now part of all aspects of life, Paul’s Diner is no exception.

The effects of the Coronavirus have greatly changed what way restaurants are run. The community of Westford has been influenced by this change, bringing Westford and its small businesses together in many ways. One perspective of this change can be seen through Sal Buonacore of Paul’s Diner

When it comes to making a profit during COVID-19, it was hard for a local restaurant where most of the client base comes in person to eat. This took a toll on sales at Paul’s Diner, especially during the stay at home period.

“We were only doing about 15% of our business at the beginning of the lockdowns.  August was the first month we turned a profit since February,” said Buonacore.

Economically, many small businesses were greatly affected by COVID-19, with the in-person client base being cut off, the lack of reliance on small-town diners, and in the general attitude towards the outside world, restaurants like Paul’s diner were bound to lose out profit-wise.

As times are changing, practices at Paul’s Diner change as well. Sal has made adaptations to how Paul’s Diner is run to accommodate these unprecedented times.

“Controlling [my] 2 biggest costs was the biggest adjustment we needed to make.  Only order food you know you will use and only staff the Diner with employees that are absolutely necessary to have.” said Buonacore.

With profits lower than usual due to the Coronavirus, business owners such as Sal need to spend as little as possible, use fewer resources, and reconsider how much is really needed, especially when access to products is limited.

The isolation the pandemic has caused has led to people being separated in many ways during this time. Not only our country is divided, but the lack of daily contact has also disconnected us in some ways.

“I don’t see all of the customers that I am used to seeing.  Outdoor dining has helped with that but there are some people that are still too concerned to go out and eat, which is completely understandable,” said Buonacore.

Despite the increased various challenges small business owners have faced during this pandemic, such as the aforementioned disconnect between customers and owners or employees. Yet, this shared struggle has also brought the community together. Sal, along with other business owners do their best to support one another.

“We are all in this together right?  I go out and eat to support other small business restaurants.  Customers and the Town of Westford made sure to keep me afloat.  I have tried to do the same as well as donate food and gift cards to people in need.” said Buonacore.

Though the coronavirus has changed life for much of the world. There is also something t be learned and gained from this expiring experience. In times of need and challenge, coming together as a community can make us feel less alone. The struggles of a small business are prevalent, but the way business owners overcome them and continue to make a profit and make connections shows that no one is truly alone in what may seem like an isolated time.

In reality, the recent events have brought people together, letting their shared experiences and challenges unite communities, people, and small businesses, as they are all learning how to adapt to the new way of life together.

“This has been a learning experience for all.  And some of the things we have implemented will stay with us forever.  There are some good ideas and good practices that came of this.” said Buonacore.