Alexandra’s Bistro: A South Side Staple by Max Fern

 

When the pandemic began, most people dismissed it. But when the stock market crashed, schools closed, and loved ones got sick, masking-up became a way of life.

Unfortunately, Lehigh Valley restaurants have had to more than cover their mouths: limited hours, social distancing, meatpacking shortages, disposable cutlery, and a whole host of new protocols have caused thousands of local establishments to shutter their doors for good.

Alexandra’s Bistro, which serves Greek and American diner food, is still hanging on.

“It’s really sad to see what’s happening, but we’re doing our best,” longtime server Colleen Burns said. “I’m just trying to stay positive and make sure that all our customers enjoy their time here at Alexandra’s.”

The coronavirus pandemic has upended not just restaurant owners, but the lives of patrons, servers, chefs, and their families. In this economy, people are forced to choose which of their favorite small businesses they are going to support. And many won’t make it to the other side.

“There’s only so much money around. We’re grateful for all the support that we get from the students and this community,” Colleen said.

The bistro has been working to streamline their procedures and have transformed their dining room to maximize physical distancing, especially during peak hours. The tricky part is figuring out how to comply with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and still turn a profit.

While many small businesses have adapted to more creative ways of raising funds, the south side staple is still doing ok. Local legends, such as New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, have been spotted at the bistro and Lehigh students are often lined up early on Sunday morning to grab a quick bite before the one o’clock football games.

“I’m not going anywhere, and I don’t think this place is either,” Colleen said. “If everyone does what they’re supposed to, we’ll get through this thing–together.”

With no comprehensive plan for a local outbreak and President Simon’s resignation on the horizon, the Lehigh community is starving for leadership. A large population of off-campus students makes it effectively impossible for the university to test enough individuals, and a severe flu season could be just the thing to turn this health crisis from bad to worse.

Alexandra’s Bistro is located at 9 E 4th Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, across from Molly’s Irish Grille and Sports Bar.

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