MANALAPAN, NJ – Stephen Ruocco owner of Ruocco’s on 9 made a huge business move prior to COVID-19, moving his entire restaurant from Howell to Manalapan, then COVID-19 happened. Ever since then, he’s been doing what he can to keep his customers fed and his employees working. Like most restaurant owners, Ruocco’s has been operating under the strict guidelines set forth by Governor Phil Murphy and making sure their staff and customers comply with health department guidelines.
The restaurant is a model operation as far as COVID-19 safety goes, but today, Ruocco is paying the price for others not complying. Phil Murphy has punished all restaurants for the action of a few that were in clear violations of not just his executive orders, but of common sense.
“Right now we are taking every precaution to help out staff and customers,” he said. “We take temperatures before customers walk into our patio We give them hand sanitizer Our staff wears masks and gloves We wrap all our silverware and cups in plastic wrap We use a sanitizing spray before and after each table is used. We have a professional company come in every other week to sanitize the indoors. This is not fair to businesses that are being safe, not everyone should suffer.”
Now, despite struggling for the past few months, Ruocco’s has a new problem. What to do with all the food he bought, hoping for the first good week of the season as indoor dining was set to begin.
“We have double ordered product for a very busy weekend and now that [Governor Murphy] closed us again we hope we can try and sell most of the items bought,” Ruocco said. “This is not only hurting us but every business. Regarding my personal business we do very little take out but we have a beautiful outdoor patio, thank God because if we didn’t have this we would have to close.”
If you haven’t been to Ruocco’s on 9 in Manalapan, definitely consider it in your plans this weekend. We haven’t been to the new location, but when they were located in Howell, it was an exceptional meal every time, with exceptional service.
Ruocco’s on 9 should not be punished by Governor Murphy in yet another blanket, one-size-fits-all directive that continues to hurt small businesses in New Jersey.
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