How will Tennessee restaurants handle the reopening process?

Coronavirus

JOELTON, Tenn. (WKRN) – While state officials have deemed May 1 as the date of reopening for Tennessee, there is still no indication of which businesses will be able to reopen, how, and when.

Entrepreneurs like Christy Jones, owner of Country Junction Restaurant in Joelton, wonder what the future holds for her family-owned business. “Usually the parking lot is pretty full,” Jones said.

Jones closed her restaurant during the first two weeks of COVID-19, out of fear of the virus. Now, the meat-and-three eatery is open for curbside pickup only. “I have a waitress come out with gloves and mask on, and takes their order or brings them their food.”

Jones says the hometown restaurant has lost about three-fourths of its normal business.

Dublin’s Crossing Irish Pub in Cumberland County has experienced a similar strain. “Our revenue is down 85%,” said Beth Davis, co-owner of the restaurant.

Dublin’s Crossing once had 11 employees, nine of them have now been laid off. “That was a really big decision for us,” Davis said. “We tried to take tables out to keep things apart, but when it went to curbside we had to take it down to just the two employees.”

Now, business owners face another critical decision. When can they open? And how?

“We applied for the PPP money and we have received it. We were one of the lucky ones! But our stipulation is we have to use that money in eight weeks. But if the state won’t allow us to open there is no way to pay employees. So, that’s my biggest question right now to Governor Lee – how do you expect me to spend this money that I got from the federal government if we can’t be open?” Davis asked.

Even if restaurants are allowed to open, locally-owned eateries may choose to gradually proceed.
“We’re gonna draw a limit to like every other table or something,” Jones said. “And, just have a sign on the door that says full.”

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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