Augusta leaders encourage local shopping to keep businesses open

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 7:14 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Two staple downtown restaurants will close their doors indefinitely.

Bee’s Knees and the Hive, two places that operate together, made the announcement on Facebook. The owner says they are not sure what their future is at this time.

For now, they’ll only offer pickup and delivery for the next two weeks and then close.

And city leaders fear this could be just one of many businesses facing possible closure. So they’re trying to help.

It’s why the commission is trying to cut costs for them. The city will consider reducing business and liquor license fees for the 2021 year. Leaders hope it could alleviate the financial pains of the pandemic.

Bee’s Knees will be the third downtown Augusta small business to fully close since March, according to the Downtown Development Authority.

But in the last nine months, there have been some hope in new openings: two new restaurants, plus a small technology store. The authority also confirms a record shop, as well as a taco restaurant, will be coming soon.

In the meantime, officials want to reduce potentially thousands of dollars worth of annual fees for companies.

Like a liquor license which can run a business more than $4,000 or even selling alcohol on Sunday can cost additional fees, too.

The authority says right now is the opportunity for both the local government and the community to step in and support local industries.

“So now more than ever we need to be picking up curbside, we need to be picking up online, we need to be getting gift cards — everything we can so these small and independent businesses who put their heart and soul into their shops and restaurants, to keep them open,” Margaret Woodard with the authority said.

The authority is hosting a contest right now, where small businesses have decorated their windows. It’s called Making Spirits Bright. The promotional campaign encourages families to visit spots downtown, shop, and vote on the best window decorations.

Also tomorrow, the commission will review a small business relief program for licenses and fees. We will provide updates on those plans when they become available.

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