There's a hand-drawn rainbow on the window at Alpin Beer&Wine Bistro, 15 SW 2nd St. - and for a very good reason. Children in France and other European nations have been painting similar rainbows on shop windows to spread hope during the health crisis related to COVID-19.
In France, the rainbow message is "Tout va bien aller." "In English it translates to 'Everything will be okay'," said Sita Challandes, who owns Alpin with her husband, Roman. The couple has kept their restaurant open despite being limited to take-out business.
Alpin is now open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m. and also for Saturday brunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Customers can call in their orders at 352.204.2873, order online at alpinbistro.com or get delivery service through 352delivery.com. The Saturday brunch features a variety of traditional crepes and quiches. The restaurant also specializes in Croques Monsieurs (cheese sandwiches), soups, salads, cheeses and charcuteries, vegan platters and decadent desserts that include crème brûlée, mousse and tartes.
Beer and wine by the bottle is also available for take-out. For the past two weeks, the Challandeses have gone from a dozen employees to three. The small team has made a point of self-quarantining itself inside the eatery or inside their homes.
"It is for the good of the team and the community," Sita said. "It's the responsible thing to do."
She added that Alpin's business is down by more than 50 percent since the first coronavirus guidelines went into effect in mid-March. As a cost-cutting measure, she and her husband are not paying themselves.
"If the support continues this way, we should be able to come out of it," Sita said. "The only concern now is our team."
That is why Challandes was awaiting word Friday on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. As Challandes spoke with gainesvilledowntown.com, several customers picked up their orders, including UF student Cailey Marsh. She said she orders from Alpin a few times each semester. "It's my favorite place downtown," Marsh said. "It's so fresh and fun. It's a unique place."