Charlotte restaurants feeling effects of coronavirus

·3 min read

Charlotte-area restaurants and pubs are feeling the effects of the coronavirus as more people stay home, prompting restaurants to take steps to keep employees and customers safe.

Sycamore Brewing said Friday on Facebook that “out of an abundance of caution,” Sycamore’s Hawkins Street Taproom will be temporarily closed.

Concerns were elevated Thursday after health officials reported two presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, in the Charlotte area.

Brittany Pollack, general manager of Ri Ra on North Tryon Street, said the uptown Irish restaurant and pub has seen a drop in customers this week, especially at lunch.

“It’s definitely been affecting us,” she said. “Each day lessens a bit with more working from home.”

Wells Fargo, for example, had 62,000 people working from home nationwide on Monday, the Observer reported.

Friday was the launch of the Ri Ra Paddy Fest through St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday. Although Sunday’s head-shaving fundraiser to fight childhood cancer has been postponed, the rest of the celebration will continue.

“We’ll be keeping an eye on capacity so we don’t have too many people at once,” Pollack said. “It’s a big weekend for us so we’re taking extra precautions.”

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper advised against gatherings of more than 100 people in North Carolina. Ri Ra has capacity for 350 people, and Pollack said it’s usually a packed house.

Safety measures

Pollack said the restaurant is encouraging extra hand-washings and for employees who don’t feel well to stay home. For customers, there will be more hand sanitizers on the bar tops.

She said thousands of people had signed up for the weekend bar Rich & Bennett’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl with a stop at Ri Ra. It’s been rescheduled for June 27. Charlotte’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Charlotte Go Green Festival also have been postponed.

“So many things have canceled it’s hard to know how many will come out,” Pollack said.

Other restaurants are taking similar safety measures.

FS Groups, parent company to Mama Ricotta’s, Midwood Smokehouse, Little Mama’s, Paco’s Tacos, Yafo Kitchen and Perfect Plate Catering, announced Thursday it would take steps to use additional chemical cleaners and increase the frequency of cleanings.

Haberdish also announced new cleaning protocols, including sanitizing chairs and booths between guests, sanitizing handles, computers and light switches hourly, and installing more hand sanitizing stations.

The restaurant also encouraged customers who aren’t feeling well to get take-out.

Effective Monday, Darden Restaurants, parent company of Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen with Charlotte locations, will begin offering paid sick leave time. The new policy is not because of coronavirus but it did accelerate its implementation, a company spokesperson told the Observer. It affects more than 180,000 workers, including about 1,000 in the Charlotte area.

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