Spruce Street Garden in Winston-Salem forced to shut down as dining room closures take a toll


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Alex Hollowell, like most other restaurant owners in the Triad, had to shift his business model after Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 17 order mandating that restaurants and bars close to the public.

His Winston-Salem restaurant, Spruce Street Garden, closed its doors to dine-in customers and began serving takeout exclusively.

“It was me and our head chef, and we sat here for eight hours,” Hollowell said of the following Saturday when they received only 3 orders.

After an underwhelming turnout, Alex decided to close up shop for the weekend and think on his restaurant’s next steps.

“There’s been a lot of soul searching these past couple days,” he said.

On Monday, after debating things like selling groceries and delivering meals, Alex decided to shut the restaurant down indefinitely for both financial and public health reasons.

“I have 20 employees who are good, hard-working folks, so it’s tough man, being like, ‘Look, we don’t have a job for you now, and I don’t know when we will in the future,'” said Hollowell.

Even after closing down, Alex doesn’t know if he will be able to keep paying rent and utilities for the building for more than a couple of weeks.

He’s applied for loans through the Small Business Association, which he hopes could alleviate some of the burden and adds that he might even pick up a second job and “[d]o something in the community whether it’s stocking shelves at the grocery store or just doing something that the community needs.”

Hollowell is prepared to go “back to the drawing board” and revisit the idea of serving takeout if quarantined life becomes “the new normal,” and he won’t be the only small business owner rethinking their plans if COVID-19 lingers through the summer.

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