A local owner of a backyard grill didn’t realize at the time how much value the new enterprise had.
Joe Ende, the owner of Finn’s Grill in Milan, made a large investment to put in a backyard grill for customers to dine outside. But he didn’t realize how important it would be for the grill to get through COVID-19.
“We took a really big risk in the beginning of COVID to develop our backyard and make a really safe environment outside and I thought it was safer to be outside,” he said. “I really wanted folks to focus on that and take advantage of everything we did and so our backyard did so well and people were able to spread out really well and nicely. We had live music and fun events.”
Because he took a risk and spending more than $12,000 on Finn’s Backyard, Ende might have saved his business.
“I think we would have been done a long time ago,” he said. “I think we might have had to walk away from this early. I try to keep myself in a safe place to where if the inevitable comes I can walk away without a lot of detriment to my family.”
Ende had big plans for the back yard and was slowly developing the area. Once the pandemic hit, that sped up the process.
“We had last year put a stage in, so we had a home for live musicians and some stuff like that,” he said. “But what I noticed right away is that early in COVID we needed a place for people to feel safe and belong and people had to dine outside. So I noticed if I didn’t go all in with that then I wouldn’t have that home for us.”
With other businesses struggling, Ende advises patrons it is crucial to support locally owned restaurants.
“We’re driving success of the community,” Ende said. “You’re not certainly just driving success of the operator. If you’re paying attention to these small business plans, these people are for the community.”
Finn’s Grill has given out free meals on multiple occasions this year and they plan to do so again on Christmas.