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Sioux City area restaurants adjust ahead of always busy Mother's Day holiday
Mother’s Day amid a pandemic

Sioux City area restaurants adjust ahead of always busy Mother's Day holiday


LE MARS, Iowa -- Few restaurants can survive nearly 60 years without overcoming a few bumps in the road. 

Tom Mullally, owner of Lally's Eastside Restaurant with his wife Patty, wasn't too worried when Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered Iowa restaurants to suspend on-site sales due to COVID-19 concerns on March 17.

"If we couldn't feed folks in our dining room, we let people take their Lally's to go," he said at the venerable eatery at 125 Plymouth St. N.E.

When Reynolds on April 27 eased restrictions on restaurants in Plymouth and 76 other counties with lower virus cases, Lally's was ready to seat regular customers or, at least 50 percent of them, right? Well, not exactly.

Lally's prepares for Mother's Day after COVID-19

After Gov. Kim Reynolds signed in an order that would stop dine-in services at all Iowa restaurants like Le Mars' Lally's Eastside Restaurant, Stacey Mullally used the time to create new comfort food meals while her dad chose to oversee needed renovations including new flooring, as well as a carry-out window for the 125 Plymouth St. N.E. eatery. 

"We were hoping to start seating people on Mother's Day Sunday," Mullally said Thursday. "But we're not quite ready yet."

In large part, that's due to the construction of Lally's new to-go window -- a first for the restaurant that was started by Mullally's parents Maria and Mike Mullally Sr., in 1961 -- as well as new flooring for the dining room, which was once home to, at separate times, Maria's dance school and Mike Sr.'s pool table. 

"We may not be able to seat customers on Mother's Day Sunday, but our customers can call ahead for family-style meals on the go," Mullally explained. "It's not ideal but we provide some service to all of the moms out there."

Mullally said Lally's Eastside Restaurant will finally be able to open its doors for dine-in customers sometime next week.

"We missed seeing all of our regulars but we saw some since we didn't have to shut down completely," Mullally said. "Will we be happy to be back up to full speed?  Absolutely."

Lally's prepares for Mother's Day after COVID-19

Stacey Mullally stands, ready to take orders at the new to-go window at Lally's Eastside Restaurant in Le Mars, Iowa. Even though a recent order from Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed restaurants in Plymouth and 76 other counties to resume dine-in services, Lally's isn't ready to serve Mother's Day diners in the restaurant. The venerable eatery continues to offer take-out food. 

Like Mullally, Sneaky's Chicken's Christy Wright came from a restaurant family. Her dad Dave Ferris and uncle Rick Ferris opened one of Sioux City's most iconic eatery in 1979.

But unlike Mullally, Wright -- who currently helps her dad run Sneaky's -- is uncertain when the 3711 Gordon Drive eatery can let customers dine in again.

Since Woodbury County is experienced a spike in COVID-19, it is one of 22 Iowa counties where on-site restaurant service remains suspended. Even as Reynolds has lifted restrictions on more types of businesses, sit-in down dining can not resume, at least until May 16 at the earliest.

"It has been nerve-wracking," Wright said. "Not knowing what will happen from day to day isn't fun."

Sneaky's has kept its doors open by offering take-out meals of its comfort food broasted chicken, ribs and sides.

"Our business was based on catering events, providing food for corporations, a lunch buffet as well as takeout at night," Wright explained. "For the past two months, we had to discontinue three parts of what we do while concentrating on the fourth."   

Through it all, she said die-hard customers have helped to keep Sneaky's going.

Lally's prepares for Mother's Day after COVID-19

Stacey Mullally prepares gift baskets for Mother's Day meals at Lally's Eastside Restaurant in Le Mars, Iowa. Historically, Mother's Day is one of the busiest days for restaurants. This is why Mullally is pulling out all of the stops for moms opn their special day. 

"We've had customers thank us for staying open," Wright said. "They missed us just like we missed them."

This is why Wright thinks Mother's Day is so important.

"Mother's Day, historically, is one of the busiest days for restaurants," she said, "This may not be the typical Mother's Day for many but we'll make the most of it."

That means buckets of chicken, baskets of burgers and enough Sneaky's sides to satisfy any family.

While Wright isn't sure when Sneaky's will be able to seat customers, she'll see them pull up in the parking lot.

The same is true for Lally's Mullally, who credited his daughter Stacey Mullally for coming up with box promotions, special desserts and, even, some gift baskets for moms.

"Mother's Day is all about spending time with family," Mullally said. "Some years, that may be spending time in a restaurant. This year, it may be getting to-go. We're just happy people are leaving the cooking to us."

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