Owner of Sugar Land Town Square restaurants talks innovation, financial loss during coronavirus

Patio seating at Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co. opened May 1. The restaurant continues to fill to-go and delivery orders as well. (Renee Yan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Patio seating at Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co. opened May 1. The restaurant continues to fill to-go and delivery orders as well. (Renee Yan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Patio seating at Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co. opened May 1. The restaurant continues to fill to-go and delivery orders as well. (Renee Yan/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite innovating to provide online ordering during the coronavirus pandemic, Victor Litwinenko, the co-owner of three restaurants in Sugar Land’s town square, said his restaurants have seen a 50%-70% decline in sales.

“At first, we were selling maybe 30% of what we were selling before,” said Litwinenko, who owns Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co., Guru Burgers and Bowls, and Japaneiro’s. “Now with the online ordering and more people getting used to the new normal, I think we're at about 50%, which is still horrendous, but it's what we're getting.”

Since May 1, the date Texas Gov. Greg Abbott permitted restaurants to open at 25% capacity, Litwinenko said the restaurants have opened their patio spaces where staff feels they are better able to distance tables and control the environment.

Additionally, Litwinenko said Japaneiro’s opened for indoor dine-in service over Mother’s Day weekend, but that at 25% capacity the restaurant looks very empty.

“It's pathetic looking,” Litwinenko said. “When you come in and there's three tables in the whole restaurant and you have to tell somebody that you're full, it's a horrible look.”


All of Litwinenko’s restaurants will open for indoor dine-in services once restaurants can operate at 50% capacity.

Another change his restaurants have made during this time is to close the physical Poketo location after its lease was up in April. Now, patrons can order items off of the Poketo menu at Guru.

Because of declines in sales, across the three restaurants Litwinenko said 40% of staff have been laid off. Litwinenko said these layoffs happened in rounds starting with the young front-of-house staff who might not need the money and then with people who needed to be home to care for children.

Looking forward, Litwinenko said it may take more than a year for his restaurant sales to return to normal, and he worries the lunchtime rush his restaurants benefited from may not be the same if people continue to work from home.

Still, he said the community continues to support the restaurants where it can.

“We've had a lot of support from the community,” Litwinenko said. “And we do understand they're short on money also, so we can’t expect them to come in and spend a lot of money.”

Jupiter Pizza & Waffles Co.

16135 City Walk, Sugar Land

281-313-1008

www.jupiterpizzaandwaffles.com

Guru Burgers and Bowls

2268 Texas Drive, Sugar Land

281-313-0026

www.guruburgers.com

Japaneiro’s

2168 Texas Drive, Sugar Land

281-242-1121

www.japaneiro.com
By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


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