On last day of dine-in service, Pearl restaurant owner hopes community support will keep her business alive

On last day of dine-in service, Pearl restaurant owner hopes community support will keep her business alive

PEARL, Miss. (WLBT) - Hours before Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order which would shutter dine-in services at bars and restaurants, more than half a dozen Pearl restaurants still welcomed customers to their tables, with some promising a safe, lean and sparse eating experience.

Off Pearson Road, at least three restaurants kept their dining rooms open Tuesday: Harvey’s Fish Hut Too, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and Jose’s Mexican Restaurant.

While some on social media have criticized metro-area restaurants keeping their dine-in areas open during the coronavirus pandemic -- in defiance of a Mississippi State Department of Health recommendation last week that those areas be closed -- restaurant owner Tiffany Jimenez said they haven’t had a choice.

Jimenez and her husband Jose have cooked and served Mexican dishes for people in the Jackson metro for nearly two decades at Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, located off Pearson Road.

Now, looking at mounting bills and fewer customers, she’s worried about how long they can stay open.

“I was figuring up the money this morning, and it’d probably be two weeks [before we would have to close]," Jimenez said. “We’re a small restaurant with only 21 tables.”

On this Tuesday, the last day Jose’s dining room will remain open until the Reeves’ executive order ends, Jimenez said she’s seeing more familiar faces than usual.

Several people stopped by and told her they saw her Facebook post and wanted to help.

The post, which detailed the financial struggles Jimenez and her family have had to endure since the coronavirus measures began, was praised by several regulars.

“Amazing customers," Jimenez said. "The community just comes together, and we appreciate it.”

It comes at a time when many Mississippians have been told to stay at home, but they venture out anyway.

Jimmy Johnese came from Richland to grab a bite at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse with his daughter.

“I worry about small business owners like him, the independent owner, and I just try to support them. And I can preserve my supply at the house," Johnese said.

He said he’s cautious when he goes, makes sure he’s not sitting too close to people, and watches for obvious signs of sickness.

Still, he says he understands the governor’s decision to shut down dining rooms in bars and restaurants across the state.

“Maybe it needs to happen. If he shuts it down, we won’t eat out no more,” Johnese said.

In the meantime, Jimenez said she and her family will keep working as long as they can, hoping to make that 20-year milestone in May.

“We’ll be delivering if we have to, and not only to-gos, but we’ll deliver. We have to do what we have to do to stay open,” Jimenez said.

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