EUGENE, Ore. – It’s common to hear about businesses closing during the pandemic, but less common to see a business that opened partly because of it.
Brandan Forrester, owner of Forresters Bar and Grill, 1190 City View Street, said the pandemic presented an opportunity to make his years-long goal of opening a restaurant a reality.
Forrester, who held a grand opening for his business on Tuesday, has experience in the restaurant industry as an employee at a restaurant in Creswell. However, this is his first time owning his own restaurant.
“I’ve always had an interest in opening up my own restaurant,” Forrester said. “I just felt like I was really at the point where I was ready to branch out on my own and open up my own place.”
While he’d thought about it for years, the planning became serious when the pandemic first began.
“I saw restaurants closing down. I really looked at that as an opportunity to find an open building, and possibly be able to get a pretty good deal on it,” Forrester said.
After securing the building, he worked with vendors and hired 16 employees, in additional to himself and his wife who also work at the restaurant.
In December 2020, a survey from the National Restaurant Association found 17% of restaurants – equaling roughly 110,000 establishments – permanently closed down. But Forrester said such closures didn’t scare him.
“We’re out to model the places that are thriving through this time,” Forrester said. “A lot of people are struggling, but some places have gotten better. And they will be better after this. And those are the places that we're looking at.”
So far, the results have been good with a fair number of customers showing up for meals, even during extreme risk when dining is limited to outdoor seating.
"We even notice today on our third day that we're already getting more of a crowd in here first thing in the morning," Forrester said.