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GREENWOOD — Many restaurants across our community are working to claw their way back after closures in March and higher prices for some foods impacted their bottom lines.
"Working in a kitchen, it's the safest job in the world because everybody has to eat," said Mark Henrichs, who is the chef and owner of Revery in downtown Greenwood. "Well March 18th or whatever that was, it was not the case."
Two weeks prior to the start of the pandemic in the Hoosier state, Henrichs was ready to sign a construction loan for a massive building expansion at the corner of Madison Avenue and Main Street in Greenwood.
But he held off because he says COVID-19 cases trickle into the United States. And then just days later, his business was forced to shutter due to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders.
"It's definitely a weird feeling knowing that you are not going into work anymore," Henrichs said. "You've been doing this for 15-20 years and then all of a sudden you just don't go to work anymore, and you don't collect a paycheck and you have to tell your staff, I don't know. Like we had no idea what to do."
Mark worked with his bank and talked to his accountant. They even tried carry out when it was allowed, but the carryout formula didn't fit this progressive American restaurant where fresh, local foods are a priority.
The restaurant at the time wasn't even utilizing a freezer or microwave—everything from steaks to seafood, to burgers and specials, are prepared fresh daily. So he closed down again and told his employees to file for unemployment.
The restaurant, Revery, which had welcomed people from Johnson County and across the state since October 2014, sat dark. In the meantime, Henrichs hustled. He applied for every loan he could find to stay afloat.
He says at 39 years old, this was the hardest thing he has ever had to do.
"I literally almost went bankrupt," Henrichs said. "I had like $3,000 to my name. To my name."
But thanks to the community's support, his bank, and federal and state loans, he was able to hang on to his business.
"I applied for every loan, the PPP all that jazz," Henrichs said. "And I got them."
The building addition, which was set to house 6,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, including a four-seasons patio with fireplace, was put on the back burner for the time being and Henrichs and his team got creative to survive the pandemic.
As restaurants slowly opened back up at partial capacity, he knew his small rooms wouldn't be able to safely hold 75 percent of customers, so he kept it at 50 percent and then looked to his giant parking lot where the construction would have started.
He got a tent with socially distant seating, and then a bigger tent.
The building project was planned to be called "Implement" and now what they are referring to as "impletent" sits in its place, serving up customers with live music and Revery's most popular dishes and cocktails.
"It turned out amazing. people were coming out. They were getting to be outside. And it feels good. You are in fresh air," Henrichs said. "It's just been a great great showing of local support."
While Impletent will begin to build back funding for the future Implement, Henrichs is using one of those government loans to make a longtime dream of owning a food truck come to fruition.
"I've been wanting to get a food truck for like the last 4 years," Henrichs said.
He says he has always gotten requests to do catering for events but their current kitchen setup wasn't the right place for that sort of prep work.
He also has an extensive catering background, working for one of the largest off-site catering companies in Chicago, catering events for people like Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama at O'Hare.
The new business venture is called Dashboard Food Truck and Catering and right now is it serving up dishes to customers in Impletent.
"It's in the parking lot now because we are trying to learn how to use it because we've never, I've never worked on a food truck before and it's kind of the coolest thing ever," Henrichs said. "It's like my baby now. I've never experienced anything that cool before in my life, and well, a couple things. But that's on the top of the list."
Once Dashboard Food Truck and Catering is ready to go remote, they can provide food for parties of 15 to 300 people, including tents, linens, plates, napkins, etc. Mark thinks this business model will help cater to people wanting to host more events like weddings from their own backyard and outside to help with social distancing.
They are already pre-booking events for the year 2021.
He says he would not have started the food truck and catering business had COVID-19 not happened and that this experience brings back the emotions and excitement from opening Revery 6 years ago,
If you want to learn more about Revery and Dashboard Food Truck and Catering, or if you want to check out their tent for some socially-distant fun, just head to their website and follow along with them on Facebook, Instagram, or Dashboard Food Truck on Facebook.
And if you are a small business looking for resources and loans available to help you rebound from this pandemic, you can find help: