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How is coronavirus preparation impacting local businesses? Restaurants, others make adjustments

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Downtown Statesville

As several states limit restaurants to take-out and close bars, businesses in Statesville are doing what they can to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Both Chick-fil-A restaurants in Iredell County closed dining room seating as of Monday, as did others across the country.

Sub Express closed its soup bar early with plans to open it again in the fall.

Harmony Galaxy Food Center will start call-ahead shopping for elderly customers Wednesday. Applicable customers can call at 704-546-2633, place their order and describe their cars. Harmony Galaxy staff will collect the requested groceries and meet the customer at their car, collecting payment curbside as well.

During a news conference on Monday, Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer, said the state health department was not limiting bars and restaurants to take-out service.

Gov. Roy Cooper asked the U.S. Small Business Administration for a disaster declaration for North Carolinian business owners.

Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump told the public not go to restaurants and bars for the next 15 days, among other requests.

“We are going through an unprecedented disruption together,” Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President Shannon Viera said. “But we have been tested before in different ways, and always emerge stronger — and I have no doubt this will prove true once again.”

Before the president made this request, Jason Cole, one of the owners of the Twisted Oak American Bar & Grill and Broad Street Burgers, said the restaurants were still open for business and trying to change with the constantly evolving COVID-19 crisis.

“My concerns change every 15 minutes,” Cole said. “My biggest concern is business coming down, (and) is my staff because they have mouths to feed.”

Cole said the Twisted Oak had seen a drop in business since Friday. With several rooms for private events, the Twisted Oak has been affected by cancellations.

While the same negative effect hasn’t been demonstrated at Broad Street Burgers, Cole said he had seen a slight increase in online orders.

“We make every change we can make to adapt to the situation, to keep people safe, and to keep the money coming in,” Cole said.

Because restaurants operate on slim profit margins, Cole said it was imperative to retain customers in these circumstances. The Twisted Oak will start offering online orders and curbside pickup. Cole and his co-owner Andrea Chadwick are exploring geographically-limited delivery as another option.

Cole said this was a new situation for everyone in the food business, so there was no one to ask for advice.

He said he thinks the worst is to come. While he hopes he’s wrong, he doesn’t think every restaurant will be around when the coronavirus is under control once more.

Meanwhile, Cole encouraged healthy people to continue supporting their local restaurants, whether that’s ordering online or coming to the dining room.

“Don’t forget about us,” Cole said. “We’re still working to provide the same food people have come to expect though you may start eating it in your living room watching the news.”

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