LAKELAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Already struggling businesses took another blow this week with the cancellation of The Great New York State Fair; a one-two punch caused by COVID-19, and now no fair-goers.
‘Suzie’s Diner,’ which is less than a mile down the road from the State Fairgrounds, usually sees a boost in business this time of year, but with events like The Syracuse Nationals and now the State Fair canceled, things are uncertain.
“We bought it back in 2014 and we opened the first day of The [Syracuse Nationals] so I realized how busy we get especially for the fairgrounds,” owner Susan DeGregorio said.
When the fun starts picking up in Geddes so does business at the diner.
“We get a lot of customers who come back every year and they look forward to coming in here and they send letters and cards and come back to have our homemade hash and now this year sad to say we’re not gonna see a lot of them,” said DeGregorio.
The diner, which has been opened since 2014, is family-owned and operated. DeGregorio’s sister, son and her husband all pitch in. They’re a welcoming bunch but this summer… this year… has been a lot different.
“It’s just been tough. The mortgage stays the same. Our utilities stay the same,” Joe DeGregorio said.
“We’re only back to 70 percent [of business], if that and we’ve lost a few of our workers,” added Susan.
The couple has made a number of changes conforming to the pandemic. They’ve also received funding through the federal government’s paycheck protection program or PPP, which has helped bring back some employees. Plenty of other expenses still remain, however.
DeGregorio said loyal customers and to-go orders have helped ‘Suzie’s’ stay afloat but without the vendors and Midway workers who frequent the diner even weeks before the State Fair leaves them wondering what’s next.
One thing you can always count on however is a fresh dish of optimism.
“They’ll be here next year, they’ll be here next year and you know you have to look out for it because I don’t think things could get much worse than this year,” said DeGregorio.