6 MONTHS LATER: Bars remain closed, others still adapting to virus restrictions

OGDEN, NC (WWAY) — On March 17, businesses closed their doors as the coronavirus crept into North Carolina. Six months later, businesses are still feeling the effects of the shutdown.

“We’re just fortunate to have anything at all at this point I guess,” Ogden Tap Room Owner Jeff Dineinger said.

Dineinger says they were shut down for almost two months exactly.

Now they are open, but it’s not quite business as usual. They’re keeping guests six feet apart, servers are wearing masks and there are sanitizer stations throughout the restaurant.

Dineinger says the biggest change is operating at half capacity. No large crowds mean less money for the business and the servers.

Luckily, they have a large outdoor area to help make up the difference, but he says there’s no coming back from the lost revenue.

“That’s lost money, if you will. That’s quite a bit of money that we missed out on and working at 50% capacity, rainy days like today we can’t use our outside area,” Dineinger said. “It was a big hit.”

Nonetheless, he says he is happy to be open.

“A lot of people didn’t reopen and aren’t going to reopen, so I’m very blessed and happy to be here and happy to serve the community,” Dineinger said.

For the small businesses that have been permitted to open, Ogden Tap Room Owner Jeff Dineinger encourages people to get out and support them but make sure to take precautions in the process.

Unfortunately, Tinyz Tavern is one of the businesses that has not yet been able to open their doors.

“Most places, just as myself, are now in debt to keep their places in operation,” Co-Owner Jason Ruth said.

In the beginning, Ruth said he was able to stay afloat with savings and a flexible landlord but now he has gone into debt that will take years to recover from.

“We’re running on fumes. I think a lot of people in the industry of the 1,063 are running on fumes now,” he said.

The 1,063 is the number of “mom and pop” bars and private clubs Ruth says remain closed, while over 7,000 restaurant bars, country clubs, and breweries have reopened.

“Science and data went out the door on May 24 when the other 7,000 bars opened up. In four months we have been provided zero evidence as to why we are closed,” Ruth said. “So my hope is the governor comes to his senses, allows us to operate under the same safety guidelines as the other 7,000 ABC permit holders around the state and operate as safely as possible.”

Eager to follow guidelines and get back to work, Ruth makes a plea directly to Governor Cooper.

“Please open us. You’re killing us, the industry is going to die. There are more than 1,063 people that are affected by this,” he said. “There are thousands of people who are now struggling and cannot survive. So open us and give us the same chance that you gave the restaurants. That’s all we’re asking, Governor.”

Ruth says the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association submitted a safety plan for reopening to the governor last week, but they have not heard back.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Top Stories

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