After looting elsewhere, some local business owners worry about reopening

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 10:27 PM EDT
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Monday, June 1, 2020

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It was only a short while ago that some businesses were given the OK to open because of the virus, but some are thinking of the new risk.

The protests across the country are affecting everyone, including business owners.

For the Sharifa Hookah Lounge, this year has been filled with a lot of hurt.

"Financially hurt," said Beheshta Aahmed-Said, owner of the lounge. "There are people getting killed. There are just so many things going on, and this is just not the year."

She says it's even tougher for those who have had their businesses destroyed by looters. And although protests in Augusta have been nothing but peaceful.

"We have awesome people here," Beheshta said.

It's the outsiders they are concerned about.

"They might be coming from out of town, and it doesn't have anything to do with anybody around here," Beheshta said.

But the manager of Joes Underground Cafe reopened their doors again today, and he says though there may be violent protests in nearby cities: Augusta is like a big family.

"A lot of us know each other, so a lot of times these protests do not have the same results in terms of violence or any sort of vandalism."

Other clubs and bars downtown like Garden City will be reopening later this week as well, but Sharifa's hookah lounge says deciding whether to open their doors was not an easy decision

"It's the first-day opening and all of this has happened," Beheshta said.

But they say they have hope and they will continue to serve a community they love.

"We will keep precaution and reach out, but we are going to just leave it to God. We are protected as long as God does that for us."

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