‘This is not a scenario I was mentally prepared for’: Winston-Salem bars and restaurants adapt to coronavirus concerns

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — “I overthink a lot. I overthink worst case scenarios,” Danielle Bull explained as she watched NC Governor Roy Cooper announce that bars and restaurants must close in-dining for the next two weeks. 

“This is not a scenario I was mentally prepared for,” Bull said.

The governor made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. as many restaurants were preparing to host Saint Patrick’s Day customers. 

Bull is the owner of Bulls Tavern in Winston-Salem

When asked about how much money she would’ve made Tuesday night she said, “$5,000…This is the largest night for us.” 

For her, it would have helped keep operations running smoothly for the next few weeks. Instead, she decided to pack up all of her liquor and valuables from the store and closed up for at least two weeks.

“I’m going to take all of the musical equipment, the things that can be pawned, out of here just in case someone wants to break in. There’s going to be nothing to take,” Bull said.

Many of the businesses in downtown Winston-Salem have been hoping that spring would bring new customers to their doorsteps. At the beginning of the Business 40 project, many stores took a severe financial hit. 

Bull was hoping to recover financially from what was lost, but the latest moves have pushed her hopes back. 

When asked how much longer she could stay open she said “a few weeks.” 

Other businesses, like Spruce Street Garden, are doing their best to adapt.

The new spot to eat opened around five months ago. Owner Alex Hollowell already has had to reduce the number of employees in at one time. 

“I have 20 people on staff…and about three working,” Hollowell said. “It’s been really tough saying to guys ‘Hey, we’re just not bringing the money in.’ That’s really been the hard part about all of this.”  

He is working toward curb-side style ordering or delivery options to help keep things running.

“Timeline is one of the biggest things. Really knowing when this whole thing is going to end is the number one thought in my head,” Hollowell said. “Until then it’s just kind of figuring out delivery, curbside, take out, all of that kind of fun stuff to keep business rolling.”

The “to-go” option, he said, won’t be the ideal financial option for the business. It will help keep cash flowing through their doors.

“There’s not a whole lot to be made in to-go stuff, but it is income, and we have to do the best we can,” Hollowell said.

Bull is working on a request to the governor for financial assistance for small businesses.

She said thousands of people have signed it, and it could be in front of the governor in the coming days. 

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