Local businesses close, while others struggle to stay open amid COVID-19 pandemic

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“We are looking at ways to kickstart our economy going forward and help our small businesses,” is the glimmer of hope Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines offered citizens Tuesday afternoon.

The statement was made as he extended the stay-at-home order for an additional three weeks until May 7.

As cities across the Triad encourage everyone to support their local businesses, some are unfortunately having to close their doors for good.

On Monday, within hours of each other, Lexington Family Grill in Lexington, and Twin City Hive in Winston-Salem announced they would not be able to reopen.

On Facebook, the owner of Lexington Family Grill posted, “It is with a heavy heart that I am informing everyone that we will not be able to reopen. I would like to thank everyone for your support and patronage for the years I have been here. I would love to thank all my amazing employees. It was a pleasure serving the Lexington area as Lexington Family Grill. We will miss seeing all the amazing customers we had over the years. Thank you to everyone that has come into this business. You are all amazing people. Stay safe and God Bless.”

When asked, the owner told FOX8 that it was the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.

“I will miss seeing all the amazing faces from Lexington on a daily basis. It is an amazing and strong community that I know will come back from all of this going on. I’m saddened by the closing but all good things must come to an end. I Love our country and I know we will all get through these hard times. Yes they are difficult times but with prayer and God’s help we will be ok. Thank you for reaching out, I wish you all well. Please stay safe. God bless America, and Our President,” the post continued.

The restaurant was home to 19 employees, and thousands of customers, who, even after the announcement, were trying to get inside to get food.

For Twin City Hive, the owner also made an announcement via Facebook: “It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. I have decided not to reopen the shop. At this point, it is crucial that I keep from continuing to run up expenses while not able to be open. After dealing with the closure of the interstate for almost a year, selling my home to keep the doors open and now this. It has been a bit much for me to handle and feel it’s best to come up with a plan to some how continue doing what I love. I will be taking orders this week for coffee pickup again, thanks to everyone that ordered last week. I will post a separate post about that. This is definitely not the end, yet the answer to what my new norm will be. I love our community, my supports and my employees. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Please support local. Do not take it for granted that business will always be around. I certainly never imagined this would be the ending on Brookstown. Stay tuned. It’s not over.”

Owner Terry Miller told FOX8 he was heartbroken by the decision he had to make. It came as a way to stop the bills from piling up.

“My focus is to stop my bills right now. My bills are continuing to come in,” Miller said.

His coffee shop opened in 2014 and has become a popular destination for anyone looking for a fresh cup of coffee.

In 2019, with the construction of Business 40, the coffee shop began to see a negative impact on their customers.

“It kind of cut off all of the arteries around us,” Miller said.

Twin City Hive, like many of the restaurants around them, was hoping that the spring and the opening of Business 40 would bring those customers back.

“When that much businesses has been cut off, and them with the revamp I bought new furniture, changed some things at the shop for the new year. Everyone was excited, and then we got into the end of February-early March, when all of this started. We really just kind of braced,” Miller said.

Miller explained, the shop’s main product was coffee, with a smaller focus on locally produced products like honey, pastries and artwork. All things that are difficult to sell through curbside service.

“Only thing I offered was coffee. It hard, you know, someone is going to drive up and ask for a medium, dark roast, with two creamers. We just weren’t set up for that,” he said.

Though there is hope that businesses will be able to reopen sooner rather than later, for Twin City Hive, there was a large risk things might not recovery.

Among things that helped business, college students were crucial. College students who are now back home and no longer nearby to stop in.

“My worry is, if we were to open in June, there were not be enough people to fill their seats. Trying to reopen and then come August I find out I just can’t make it,” he said.

Miller said once COVID-19 passes he could reopen his store at a different location, but his time at Brookstown Avenue is over.

“I really do love this community and how much support they provided us,” he said.

As a way to help pay for the existing bills he is selling bags of roasted coffee and virtual coffee online.

While a handful of local businesses have closed altogether, others don’t know how much longer their life rafts will last.

“Having the community to back you up gives you a little bit of blind reassurance that things are going to be OK,” said Nina Beck, the owner of English’s Bridal and Formalwear in Clemmons. “I can’t say for sure. I don’t know.”

Beck bought the historic business back in March. She explained that her business began to feel the effects of COVID-19 as early as January.

“It hit us back in January when it hit China. Which was really interesting, because it felt like I was telling everybody, ‘How is this affecting my dress, I’m not in China.’ A lot of our material comes from China. Just that overseas travel,” she said.

English’s was closed more than two weeks ago when non-essential businesses were shut down across the county.

Beck, like many business owners, adapted to this and moved to online orders.

“We took pictures of dresses so we could potentially send them to people and maybe help people that way. I still have stock photos I can send out to people and expecting brides,” Beck said.

What has been difficult for her and others though, is that this is a unique situation with no set timetable.

“Some people compare this to 9/11 when places shut down. We want, in those situations, to go to somebody and say, ‘Oh my gosh, give me direction, help me!’ The thing is, this is new for everybody,” she said.

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