Patience must be a virtue now

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Local businesses reopened their doors Memorial Day weekend after Gov. Roy Cooper issued his latest executive order.

I wish a good friend of mine lived here.

His restaurant just might have survived.

Nearly two weeks ago, he woke me up from a light slumber and needed to talk. Our conversations usually deal with his frustration of owning a business, but I wasn’t prepared for what he said.

“I shut my doors.”

“Come again?” I said.

“I met with my staff and shut my doors tonight for good,” he said while he choked back tears. “I’m filing for bankruptcy.”

I felt like I had been punched in the gut.

My friend gathered his thoughts and told me that revenue had decreased due to lack of take-out sales. Food shortages forced him to eliminate popular items from his menu, and increase prices of the remaining selections to help compensate for the loss.

He furloughed his wait staff and created shifts for his kitchen personnel. One group worked in the morning, while the other covered the evening.

Despite his efforts, the ledger kept showing red numbers.

“My dad started this business from scratch,” he said. “I’m glad he’s not here today to see what has happened. I’m not sure that he wouldn’t have made the same decision.”

What my friend said next brought me to tears.

Before his fateful announcement, he had gone to the bank and withdrew money from his personal account. He handed each worker an envelope that contained $500.

“I know it’s not much, but they’ve been so good to me, I had to do something because they’ve got families to take care of just like I do,” he said.

Each returned the next morning to collect their final paycheck.

But before they shared tearful goodbyes, the kitchen staff cooked one final breakfast. They pulled two long tables together in the center of the restaurant and ate one last time together.

Where am I going with this, you ask?

Family-owned businesses throughout the country, including right here in Wayne County, are reopening their doors with restrictions in place due to the current health pandemic.

While some have continued with curbside service, others have been closed for a couple of months. Those folks need time to rebuild their stock and supplies, and that could change their hours of operation.

They may not have a full staff on board, which could lead to slower service. Remember to tip your waiter or waitress.

Respect social-distancing guidelines, sanitary procedures and safety measures.

Above all, be patient and positive.

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