BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) – With staffing shortages, a lack of customers, and the financial toll from closures, business owners continue to grapple with the pandemic’s impact. In the Lowcountry, a restaurant is now also facing damages caused by Tropical Storm Danny.
Family is the focus and foundation at Nonna Lucia in Bluffton, and now the owners said they are fighting to keep their doors open.
“Everything we have is tied up in the restaurant,” Michelle Licona, the co-owner of the business, described.
For the Liconas, it was a gamble to put everything they had into their business — investing thousands into a place they hoped anyone could feel at home. The co-owners kept pushing to be there for their community in spite of pandemic-related setbacks.
“We had a choice — either close up and not incur any more debt or try and push through knowing that when we reopened the customers would come back, which they did,” Michelle Licona said.
Family-owned and operated, Michelle and Julio built the restaurant from the ground up, choosing to invest everything they had when the pandemic hit.
“Unfortunately, we’ve incurred so much debt. People don’t realize…so the income wasn’t there but the bills kept rolling in and so you have payment plans and you know it’s stressful. I have friends in the business that are going through the same thing.” Michelle added.
Walking through the restaurant, the Liconas pointed to the empty freezer where they lost thousands of dollars of food from their power outage and indicated the growing list of repairs they are facing with no revenue coming in after being forced to close down for weeks.
“We took in a ton of water, we had electrical damages, we lost all of the food in our cooler and our walk-in freezer that we’ve been building up over time,” Michelle said.
For a family known for giving back to their community — taking time even during the height of the pandemic to raise donations for graduating local seniors — the Liconas said they are now praying for a miracle.
“You try not to think about it, go day by day and just hope for the best. So that’s all we can do,” Michelle said, overcome by emotion.
The Liconas say they’ve always worked to put their community first, and now hope others will remember them at a time where everything they have is on the line.