After 9 straight weeks of being closed due to flooding, Evandy’s Boatel restaurant in Naples, Illinois is back open.
The owners of Evandy’s Boatel said they estimate they missed out on around a quarter of a million dollars in revenue during the flood. They also lost staff who needed to find other jobs to support themselves while the restaurant was closed, but now things are finally looking up.
“I’ve been following the flood and everything and when I saw they were opening this morning at 11, I said are we going to be the first ones again? So I hurried down so we could be the first ones again,” said Nancy Wood.
Wood and her friend Roy Johnson were at the door of Evandy’s Boatel before they even opened Friday morning. The same place they were when it reopened in 2015 after flooding. But you won’t hear co-owner Eric Vangundy complaining about letting customers in early, as they fired up the fryers and got started on trying to make up for lost time.
“We missed Mother’s day, Father’s day, Memorial day, and the Fourth of July, so that’s revenue you can’t make up, all you can do is go on and make the best of the rest of the summer,” said Vangundy.
With the Boatel back open, waitstaff said they’re happy they no longer have to struggle to find alternative sources of income just to get by.
“I have bills to pay, I have a car payment, and I still pay for school.” said Waitress Alexis Lucas, adding that while it was hard, it was worth the wait to keep her job at the Boatel.
“You just had to find something to do, I didn’t want to find a different job because this place is so willing to work around my school schedule with me and the hours are great, so it was just find work here, find something to do there,” said Lucas talking about the time she was out of work.
But now, she’s grateful to be getting back to work.
“There’s a lot of good people that come down here, and they love to have a conversation with you, talk about the river, it’s a good environment,” said Lucas.
“My heart just goes out to these people, their businesses and their farms, and their homes, and everything,” said Wood talking about those impacted by the flooding.
Vangundy said around 75% of their staff came back, and while they’re operational, they’re still looking for new hires to fill a few gaps in their crew.