FOUNTAIN INN, S.C. (WSPA) – Restaurants across South Carolina opened doors Wednesday morning hours after Governor Henry McMaster’s executive order that all restaurants and bars end in-house dining to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Employees at Bobby’s BBQ in Fountain Inn fired up the restaurant’s smokers at 3 a.m. as usual Wednesday morning for its regular customers stopping by for lunch. This morning, however, the amount of meat inside was about a third of the normal amount.
Owner Octavius Nelson, like many restaurant owners, will now still offer to-go meals.
He added curbside pick-up and delivery options to encourage people to still purchase lunch and dinner from the restaurant, which is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11am to 8pm. Both options can be made online or by calling the restaurant.
An hour before Governor McMaster’s statewide executive order Tuesday, Mayor Knox ordered restrictions on Greenville restaurants and bars to no longer offer in-house dining. He later told 7News that city leaders guessed the mandate would be in place for about 60 days.
He said city leaders are looking at adjusting parking downtown to make it easier to pick up food and also altering payment schedules for hospitality taxes.
In Travelers Rest, Sidewall Pizza owner Andy O’Mara, who also owns restaurant locations in Spartanburg and Greenville, said the spread of the virus is having a huge impact on his business and his 270 employees.
He halted in-house dining Tuesday and was encouraged by the turnout for carry-out orders, but O’Mara worries that with no end in sight to the closing of dining areas, business is not sustainable.
“We are taking this day by day, hour by hour,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult time. We all have payroll. We have taxes; we have insurance, rent, payroll taxes. We still have all those expenses. And if the restaurants are not open generating revenue, or other businesses are not open generating revenue, we all have bills to pay just like consumers have bills to pay.”
In the meantime, he has been advising his employees to explore unemployment options and other job opportunities that are available to people whose work has been affected by the spread of COVID-19 through the SC Department of Employment and Workforce.
To help local businesses keep their doors open, Mayor White says the City of Greenville is encouraging people to continue to order food from local restaurants and buy gift cards.
Local restaurant owners like O’Mara and Nelson are hoping the community will continue to support local businesses by purchasing take-out meals.
“Like everybody, we want people to come out and support all the businesses that they can,” he said. “This is an important time and crucial time for all the small businesses and large businesses around the country, so we need to be able to support each other.”
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