It’s about survival: Local restaurants continue to limp along in COVID era

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 5:05 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With COVID cases surging, local businesses are reaching their wit’s end.

This afternoon Augusta commissioners approved relief in the form of reduced business and liquor license fees.

As we first told you Monday, two more Augusta downtown businesses, Bee’s Knees and The Hive, are set to close indefinitely in a few weeks.

Business owner David Long describes it as a roller-coaster with drastic month to month changes.

Back in April, Second City Distilling flipped its business on its head and started making hand sanitizer.

“If we had not had the sanitizer revenue come about, we would be gone,” Long said. “There’s no question.”

But not everyone had that opportunity, and even now changes in the weather and rising cases tell a difficult story.

“You can see the correlation for sure, as cases go up, our business goes down,” Long said.

“It’s like throwing spaghetti up against a wall and seeing what sticks,” Margaret Woodard of the Downtown Development Authority said.

Woodard says that’s what businesses are dealing with.

The Hive tried to offer an online food market after dine-in sales fell. Now, their owner says they’ll see what happens after the holidays.

Laziza just opened last month and is now offering curbside pickup. They say they are surviving, but holiday catering is down 50 percent.

Farmhaus is offering gift cards and much of their business has switched to take out.

“Some of them still have not reopened since the shelter in place in March,” Woodard said.

Two businesses closed and moved online. The heart and soul of downtown is at stake. To survive, they say the community has to step up.

“These are people,” Woodard said. “Faces that we know that we go to church with, our kids go to school together. They support our little league teams. They buy our uniforms. It’s time for us to pay it back.”

The Hive and the Bees Knees will be open for curbside and delivery only for the next two weeks if you’d like to support them. Downtown development says buying a gift card is enough to make a big difference.

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