Restaurants feel the heat from coronavirus closures

Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street followed many in the restaurant industry when they decided to cease all operations, including take out and delivery, for the time being.

Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street followed many in the restaurant industry when they decided to cease all operations, including take out and delivery. Many establishments that haven’t closed their doors have limited their hours of operation.

“We are reminding everyone that though this healthcare crisis affects all of us, our beloved restaurant community is being devastated,” said Harvest Moon’s director of operations, Steve Smith.

Right now, Jenny Kibler, who owns the restaurant, said management is trying to figure out how to keep the employees at the restaurant paid — whether it’s within Harvest Moon or outside. The Honeymoon Bakery, which is right next door, is still open.

Owner of Jamwich, Shadae Yancey, shared the sentiment of devastation.

Her store on Broad Street hasn’t closed, but instead has limited its hours of operation to 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. She said sales are down by almost 80%.

“Due to the drastic decline in business so abruptly, the first thing as a survival plan was to cut costs,” she said. “To cut costs means to cut labor. We’ve taken away our breakfast hours and we’re working with a limited menu.”

That means she isn’t making all of the usual items. The dressings that come with sandwiches are made in-house, along with the bread for the sandwiches. There aren’t any preservatives in them, so if she keeps trying to make them, they’ll mold.

With people experiencing layoffs around the city, there hasn’t been as much demand as there is a supply.

None of this was expected, said Elizabeth Spruell, who manages the front of house in the restaurant. In fact, she said they had a record breaking Saturday just two weeks ago.

But when school closures came, they both agreed that things would “start getting weird.”

“This is just times we’re having to think outside the box and how can we get our food to the public when the public’s not coming here,” she said.

Right now, the restaurant is depending on generosity from people to come in and eat despite financial hardship. One company, Yancey said, ordered catering and they were able to deliver it to the door.

After work, she planned to buy a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop and order some takeout food from another place in support of local business. She urges those who can to do the same.

On the other end of things, Spencer Brewer, who owns Lavender Hardware, a store on Martha Berry Highway, said that he hasn’t experienced a huge loss of business due to the coronavirus, and he is a bit surprised by that.

“We were fearful it was going to shut us down,” Brewer said. “We think people are staying home, spending time with their families, and doing home projects.”

The hardware store hasn’t laid anyone off. He did say, however, that some of his employees decided to stay home since the CDC is encouraging people to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Many local restaurants, like Burger King, Hardee’s and Bojangles’ have gone to drive-thru only. Many other businesses have simply limited hours. Most are until further notice.

In the mean time, Aaron Excellence, LLC, which owns the McDonald’s locations on Turner McCall and Martha Berry Highway, is giving children free breakfast and lunch during the school closures.

Breakfast is free for kids on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and lunch will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

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