Across the last several weeks, the Erie area has seen an uptick in restaurant owners shutting down indoor dining on a voluntary basis. 

The latest to do so was Colao's Ristorante, curbing inside seating for this upcoming weekend. Owners say the decision was solely based off of the uptick in COVID-19 cases and the concern for the health and safety of customers. 

"It was really more form a safety standpoint rather than a financial one", said Bob Saverio-Colao, owner. "We didn't want to risk adding to the rising number of cases".

A few miles away, Pineapple Eddie has been closed for indoor seating since early November. Owner Karen Thomas says the community support has been there for take out and curbside orders, to help sales stay above water. 

But Thomas also added that these orders have not been as abundant as they were back in March, during the first shutdown. She attributes this to a lack of economic aid, such as stimulus checks, which were prevalent months ago. 

"You have to figure out what you're going to be able to do, until you can sustain yourself again through the spring", said Thomas. "It's a matter of trying to stop the bleeding".

Other restaurants, however, are not planning on closing in person dining unless instructed by the state. 

In the words of the owners, it just isn't financially possible to close indoor seating, and stay alive at the same time. 

That's the case for JJ's Retro Eatery in Union City. Debbi and Greg James have owned the restaurant for eight years. The first seven years, they say, were financially successful.

This year, things are much different.

"On a scale from 1 to 10, if it was a 10 before the pandemic, it's probably a 2 right now", James said. "I just feel like COVID stole our business".

Closing indoor seating? Not an option, owners say. If that were to happen, they don't know if they'd be able to survive.

"It is not", said James, when asked if it was plausible to voluntarily shut down. "For us to be able to survive, this is all we have. I can't really speak for others, but I know the pandemic has hit us super hard".

Since the onset of the pandemic, JJ's has implemented delivery and curbside service to combat some of the lost sales from in person dining.

Debbi and Greg are hopeful they'll be able to stay around past the pandemic. They say they'll need in person, curbside, and delivery all thriving to make it happen.

But they admit there's no knowing of what will come next.

"I've always believed that I will not succumb to any kind of situation, I would just do it the best I can until I literally can't do it" said James "To support out family, this is all we have."

This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.