'We are basically shutting down all of Aiken': Restaurants have slow traffic after closing dining areas

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
News 12 at 11 o'clock/NBC at 12

Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandate that prohibits dining in restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Restaurants across the nation are slowing down as more people are staying indoors and at home. Aiken restaurants are losing more money staying rather than closing their doors.

Dining flow in Aiken has nearly stopped after Gov. Henry McMaster prohibited dining in restaurants to battle coronavirus spread.

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In the 8 years her restaurant, Betsy’s Round The Corner, has been open for business, Betsy Simon says she’s never seen business this slow.

“There are no cars on the street, there aren't people on the streets,” Simon said.

Simon originally didn’t know if she wanted to continue to dine in or just do takeout orders during the coronavirus pandemic. But she soon didn’t get to make that decision.

“Gov. McMaster made our mind up for us,” she said.

The order mandated that businesses were no longer allowed to have guests dine in, even if there are tables outside.

“I was kind of surprised because we have tables outside. And we thought that we could perhaps, people could pick up an order and then sit at the table outside and we were told that we couldn't do that,” Simon said.

Carla Ponce is the owner of Jack's Café and Lounge. Her sales have dropped a full 90 percent since the mandate was placed.

“We are basically shutting down all of Aiken,” Ponce said.

Another problem is that some customers aren’t working which means they won’t get a paycheck anytime soon to be able to dine out.

“It’s very limiting and not just with the social interaction part but having people just come in and have food to go,” Ponce said.

Many restaurants are losing more money staying open than they are closing their doors.

“I still have to have my kitchen crew here. I still have to have cooks the light on and the gas running,” Simon said. “Everyone was starting to get freaked out and now it’s a ghost town here.”

A few restaurants have said that customers ordering takeout don’t have to come inside their dining areas at all. Customers can pull up, blow their horns or flash their car lights, and employees will be their order out to your car.

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