LUMBERTON – Local restaurant owners are finding innovative ways to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic while looking to rebound after the coronavirus threat ends.
Among them, Arnold West, owner of the Village station and Arnold restaurants, both in Lumberton.
“Every day is a fight,” he said. “… we have a big takeout business, and we’re very fortunate for that.”
Family meals, which have enough food to serve four to six people, help Village Station restaurant navigate the new coronavirus, West said.
Since March 16, sales at Village Station have dropped 93% and those of Arnold’s by 86%, he said.
But West sees the flip side as an opportunity to serve the people who go out daily to keep the community running and keep people safe.
The Hot Dogg Cart restaurant is located outside the Village Station Restaurant.
Critical staff, such as first responders, postal workers and truck drivers, have a choice of two hot dogs or two corn dogs and a drink for free, West said.
“It’s just a small way that we can reintroduce into our community and show them that they are the real heroes,” he said.
He is confident that the restaurant and the community will recover after the pandemic ends, West said.
“It is a tragedy that has affected this small business community, but we, on the whole, will stay united and succeed,” said West. “Robeson County and our people are strong and have overcome so many obstacles in our path. It will be no different. “
When the pandemic subsides, he will start looking for and asking for small business loans or money to help his businesses recover, said West.
“We will be making a comeback and we will be better than ever,” he said.
Your Pie, a brick oven pizzeria that opened in November, is also being creative in its efforts to continue operating, said owner Kevin Fraley.
Two weeks ago, the restaurant started offering take-out pizza kits with pizza dough and toppings for $ 30, he said. The kits are a direct result of the virus.
“It’s a great activity for the family,” said Fraley.
The restaurant also offers promotions on social media platforms to remind customers to eat local, he said.
The pizzeria will continue to innovate in its approaches to survive the pandemic, said Fraley.
“We are actively making adjustments in our restaurant,” he said. “We plan to be here in the long term.”
Fraley declined to comment on the percentage of sales lost during the pandemic.
Take-out, curbside pickups and online orders can be made, he said. Deliveries can also be made via DoorDash.
Fraley shared advice with other business owners.
“Make good, solid decisions about your business,” he said. “Stay focused on your customer.”
Cakes and Pastries closed on March 30 due to reduced activity caused by the coronavirus, said owner Bryan Britt. The store will remain closed until April 17.
“Your business goes down a lot when you have something like this,” said Britt, who is also chairman of the board of directors for the Lumberton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The restaurant and bakery, located on Farringdom Street, saw a 50% drop in breakfast and lunch sales, he said.
“When this business went out of business, we just had to cut the hours and the staff,” said Britt.
Most customers preferred to eat at the restaurant, he said. The business was eliminated after Governor Roy Cooper issued a March 17 order prohibiting dining in restaurants and bars.
“It’s really a lot of work to have to comply with the new regulations,” said Britt.
Closing the doors was therefore the best option, he said.
Small business loans aren’t in his plans, but he won’t rule them out completely, said Britt.
Britt encourages business owners to take advantage of opportunities such as small business loans offered through the Paycheque Protection Program.
The program is part of the $ 2.2 trillion stimulus package signed on March 27 by President Donald Trump which offers loan forgiveness to businesses that use the money to cover payroll, mortgage and service costs rent payers within eight weeks of receiving the loan. Employee levels and compensation should remain the same during this period, according to the United States Department of the Treasury.
Britt plans to hire 15 staff when the company reopens.
“It will take a while,” he said of the recovery process. “… I am very optimistic.”
Tucker Scott, left, Aaron West, in the middle, and Jackson Scott are ready Tuesday to complete orders at the Hot Dogg Cart outside the Village Station Restaurant on Roberts Avenue in Lumberton. The cart, operated by the restaurant, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. First responders, postal workers and truckers can choose between two hot dogs or two corn dogs and a free drink at the stand.