Pandemic hitting downtown Winston-Salem businesses hard

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Downtowns in several areas of the Triad are changing, and it’s not in ways that will welcome more people.

Over the last few months, restaurant owners have walked away from fulfilling careers that made them happy.

The pandemic is too tough to fight and too hard to survive with current restrictions.

In downtown Winston-Salem, several restaurants and bars have shut their doors.

“It was almost like putting down a beloved pet. There are times when the future is not a viable thing,” Ameen “Moody” David said.

He returned to Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe to talk to FOX8 on Tuesday.

After 11 years in the same spot on the corner of Liberty and Fourth streets, David closed for good in October.

“[COVID] didn’t seem like it was going away,” he said.

Mooney’s business, especially to-go orders, relied on people working in surrounding office buildings downtown.

With COVID, office workers were gone. So was his business.

“There was no magic button. No magic bullet,” David said. “So, just the uncertainty of when we could return, forced our hand.”

The slipping sales and the change in the weather has also forced other business owners to change their plans.

Sixth and Vine is closed for the winter.

The director of the Triad Food and Beverage Coalition is worried if these businesses will ever come back.

“It’s an essential piece of the community. It’s part of the fabric,” Algenon Cash said.

Cash told FOX8 that when there are no places to bring people to downtown, everything suffers.

“It makes it much harder to attract new companies,” he said. “When you’re talking to a new company, immediately they want to know what kind of quality of life can my workforce expect.”

That makes a direct impact on the local economy.

“Not just directly through the sales and property taxes they pay, but also indirectly through the wages they pay to employees and the dollars they spend with local vendors,” Cash said.

Those sales and property taxes help fund public services, like sanitation, transportation and public safety.

Cash has noticed, what he calls, a “mass exodus” of people moving away from downtown Winston-Salem, as the amenities, like neighborhood bars and outdoor concerts, disappear.

“It’s a shame here in Winston-Salem because we’ve spent more than a decade revitalizing our downtown core,” he said. “Restaurants along Trade Street and Fourth Street were largely responsible for that revitalization.”

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