Local restaurants, bars search for support amid COVID-19 restrictions

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Sign outside of cafe with hour change and a thank for continued support.

Ally Telfor

Fay’s Evelyn Bay in downtown Charlotte is one of many local businesses to shorten their business hours.

To impede  the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted an executive order March 16 to temporarily close eat-in bars and restaurants and transition them to take-out only. Many local businesses will be affected. Two owners of affected businesses in Charlotte spoke about what community members can do to help.  

Erica Limas, owner of Fay’s Evelyn Bay, said its staff is fully prepared to sell any food or beverage on the menu to go. The cafe is also working to deliver.

“I can run it out to you, or you can run in and grab it,” said Limas, pointing out that, when kids get stir crazy at home, Evelyn Bay still offers ice cream to go.

“Every little thing helps, even if it’s a small coffee,” she said.

Terry Davis, managing partner of the Eaton Pub and Grille as well as the Eaton Place, said they are happy to run orders out to people in their cars. 

“We’re encouraging people to pull up to the backdoor and we run the food out to them,” Davis said. 

He said the restaurants have been trying to keep a skeleton crew to keep some of its 80 staff members employed.

“Hopefully we bring in enough revenue to pay those employees and at least keep the doors open for the next foreseeable future,” he added.  

Limas said she’s reduced staff  in the past couple weeks. 

“I already laid off my two young girls that are still in high school, and I might possibly have to lay off one of my full-time employees or both. We are a staff of seven including myself. I’m hoping to not have to do that because I feel bad for my employees,” Limas said. 

Stacked restaurant chairs

Ally Telfor

The Eaton Pub and Grille keeps its tables and chairs stacked most days since Gov. Whitmer’s March 16 executive order.

Davis said the Eaton Pub and Eaton Place have been deep cleaning for the past few weeks after encounters with customers. Limas said Evelyn Bay is doing the same.

“We are bleaching down everything,” Limas said. “As soon as someone leaves, we wipe everything, the coffee pots, the whole nine yards.” 

The consensus among restaurants, bars and cafes is that, as Davis put it, “This is uncharted territory, we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

However, there’s another strong consensus: The Charlotte community is banding together to support local businesses through this tough time. 

“Today, I ordered lunch from the Eaton Pub down the road, I bought breakfast from Sidestreets Deli,” Limas said. “Anything we can do or anything to help anybody, I’m down for.”

Sarah Kopulos, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce president, encourages citizens to support their local businesses while staying safe. 

“The community is really pulling together to support the small businesses down here, that’s what I’m seeing,” Kopulos said. 

Kopulos said one way to support businesses while staying safe is by buying gift cards from establishments now so that they can pay for rent, supplies, etc. Customers can use the gift cards down the road when establishments are fully open to the public. 

“It’s great that our little community can support each other in their time of need,” Kopulos said.