COWETA, Okla. — A long time family restaurant in Coweta is relieved to be back open to the public as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but business is still very slow.
However, the Mark’s Place Family Restaurant Owner Mark Rifai says he knows better days are to come.
"This community has always been here for us, and here for me when I needed them," Rifai said. "I know that the community will be here again."
Mark's Place, located at 13731 E Hwy 51, Coweta, OK 74429, has been in the Green Country community for over 30 years, and Rifai says he’s loved every day he’s been here.
“There’s no better place than this community, this community is home," Rifai said. "Here it's your people and it's a love that you’ve seen for 31 years, and you raise your children and grandchildren in that."
Rifai started cooking with his mom when he was just a kid in Syria, and when he moved here, he worked in restaurants until he could buy his own place.
"I just kept working and working," Rafai said. "I wanted to have my own place because I love making good food for people."
He says the community has supported him and his family ever since they opened. Which is why he wants to push through this pandemic—to continue being a part of this community he loves.
"I feel so special when they come in and say they love my food," Rafai said.
Rafai hasn't been able to hear that as his restaurant was restricted to curbside pick-up only, over the last few weeks.
"We are making 75 percent less than usual," Rafai said. "It's been tough because sometimes we'd end up closing halfway through the day."
But despite that financial hit, he's working to provide those stuck inside a good meal to look forward to. He's been donating meals to the nearby nursing homes during the pandemic.
"In times like this, it's important we take care of each other," Rafai said. "It's important for us to be there."
Rafai's giving heart even during financial hardship did not surprise his employees at all.
"He just treats everyone like family," Brooklyn Miller, one of the waitresses said. "He's always ready to help someone if they need it when they come in here, so it's no different now."
While the staff prepare to provide about 30-40 meals to deliver to the nursing home on Wednesday, they hope to see more people stop by. To prepare for customers, Mark's Place staff have been cleaning nonstop.
"We wipe everything down all day," Debbie Gale, one of the waitresses. "We sanitize and clean constantly."
The staff is still providing curbside pick up for those not comfortable eating in, but they are also excited to welcome customers who'd like to eat at the restaurant.
To place an order to go, call 918-486-3899.
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