It’s the best outdoor dining experience you will ever have indoors.
Stanzy’s Country Ranch Restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Peabody, is back in business.
Known for its garage-door windows, Southern-style menu and live country music, the restaurant threw open those windows for the first time in more than three months last week. Customers enjoyed a new food and beverage menu, as well as an abundance of fresh air.
“It was busy and I think everyone was happy,” said owner Robert Stanziani. “I was so happy to get back to work. Saturday and Sunday were on the slow side, but we wanted to open on a slow week because we had lost our kitchen and had a rough ride finding a new chef and building the pieces around it.”
The restaurant had its grand opening Jan. 21. It was still working out the kinks when COVID-19 struck, forcing a statewide shutdown of thousands of restaurants, bars and places of entertainment.
Stanziani elected to shut down operations completely.
“At first, we thought this might be over a couple of weeks, and, having never pushed the takeout, we said, ‘let’s just close’ because like everyone else, we were all scared. I didn’t want to be in here and I didn’t want to risk employees being here. We just didn’t want to push it.”
More than two dozen restaurants in Peabody have taken advantage of temporary outdoor dining. Stanzy’s, located at the corner of Main Street and Foster Street, did not.
“The city was great, they were going to give us part of the parking lot across Foster Street, and we thought we’d have a beautiful beer garden,” he said. “I was too nervous that the street was too busy and too much for everyone to handle right away. We’d have to be running food and drinks across the street, so we had to turn it down.”
Despite closure, Stanzy’s applied for and received a Payroll Protection Plan loan.
“That saved us. The landlord (Pat Todisco) has been very good and we got a grant from the city, so all that helped,” Stanziani said. “We lost 30 bar seats, so that really hurts us and we’re down to about 70 or so seats. Our thing right now is, without live entertainment, we need to figure out something to keep people in after 10 o’clock.”
A 2001 graduate of Peabody High and Peabody resident, Stanziani operated Kernwood Liquors in Lynnfield and a nightclub in Florida before getting serious about starting a new restaurant in his hometown.
“I”m a local boy and that’s why I wanted to do this,” said Stanziani. “A city councilor told me about it, so I checked it out. The selling point were the garage-door windows because we wanted that fresh air, we wanted to play music with people singing, Nashville style, with pedestrians outside able to listen. There aren’t a lot of places like this.”
Stanziani said he is grateful to the community and hopes to polish off his Harley Davidson motorcycle raffle for the benefit of the Northeast ARC Autism Programs. Tickets are $50 each. Only 150 will be sold. The bike, which is hung on the Foster Street wall, was donated by Boyd Cycles of Peabody.
“I love the support from my Peabody people,” he said. “With the virus, having an open-air setting with fresh air, is added reassurance for our customers that they are in a safe place.”
Julie Daigle, Director of the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, who dined there last week, agreed.
“I wouldn’t go to most restaurants inside, but Stanzy’s with those windows bringing the outside in is great.”