Restaurant owners try to keep businesses afloat as orders drop

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — CDC recommendations encourage people to stay in and avoid groups of 10 or more, and that’s hitting many businesses hard.

Some have had to close their doors. Several business owners Tuesday had the same look of worry in their eyes — not just for themselves, but for employees whose livelihoods depend on them.

“We’re closed today because of the coronavirus,” said Tamra Patterson, owner of Chef Tam’s Underground Café, who was doing some deep cleaning at the restaurant.

Patterson is one of many business owners faced with the challenge of having to scale back due to coronavirus. She also has 38 employees on her mind.

“We don’t know when we’re going to be able to let the entire staff come back, and so that’s really kind of nerve-wracking, because I have a heart for my employees,” she said.

And she’s not alone. Eric Vernon with the Bar-B-Q Shop says he’s never experienced anything quite like this.

“I was here the day of 9/11, and we still, that week is nothing compared to what we’re seeing now,” Vernon said.

To try and stay afloat, Vernon said they’ve added staggered seating, ramped up cleaning protocol and curbside service for the first time.

“We’re just trying to make sure we’re perfect our to-go orders. If you call the Bar-B-Q Shop and say, ‘Hey, can you bring it to the car,’ we’re doing carside as well. We’re just trying to make the customer feel as comfortable as possible,” he said.

Chef Tam said she will look to more delivery options to reach customers.

“We’re going to revamp Chef Tam’s meals to go, and we’ll be delivering them all around the metro,” Patterson said.

Everyone is hopeful the community’s support gets them through this trying time.

Businesses say another good way to support them is through purchasing gift cards directly through them. They say any support will help them keep their doors open.

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