Restaurant owner says partial capacity is “unsustainable”

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The City of Savannah is encouraging social distancing for visitors heading into the city for Memorial Day weekend, and for local restaurants that are now offering “dine-in” services.

Chris Emerick, the owner of Two Cracked Eggs Cafe, said their sales dropped 97 percent between January and May due to the pandemic. Although businesses are reopening, he says operating at 30 percent is not a viable option for a lot of businesses that are struggling to even stay open.

“I mean you didn’t build a restaurant to run on 25 percent or to run on 50 percent. I mean if you do the math the average restaurant, an A-1 restaurant, performs at about 31 percent profits so you’ve got to make at least 69 percent of your business at making ‘x’ amount of sales just to cover bills, so if you’re running at 50 percent I mean just do the math, you’re going in the hole every day.”

Now that states are reopening, Emerick said restaurants are competing with unemployment benefits that are more lucrative than what most restaurants are capable of offering—creating an issue for their ability to keep up with the influx of tourists.

“It’s just a little difficult because we don’t have the full staff that we need. It’s kind of hard to get somebody to work for you when they’re getting $600 dollars a week plus unemployment on top of that,” Emerick stated.

City leaders are asking restaurants to take extra safety precautions like spacing people six feet apart on the sidewalks leading into their facilities.

“We went out to a restaurant last night and it was about half full. People were still trying to social distance, everybody’s wearing masks especially the people who work at the restaurants. They’re taking great precautions, wiping down all of the counters, having disposable menus and having us come pick up the food at the counter instead of them delivering it to us,” Ethan Trace who was visiting the city for the holiday weekend said.

The city is encouraging restaurants to continue to look for ways to offer pickup or carry out options, but Emerick said businesses like his, whose dishes go straight from the stove to the table, can’t feasibly offer a “dinning out” service.

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