Small businesses adapt to survive during coronavirus outbreak

Small businesses adapt to survive during coronavirus outbreak

CLINTON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hundreds of small businesses across the metro and state are closing their doors as COVID-19 spreads.

Local restaurants are doing what they can to adapt and keep their workers on the payroll while giving back to the community.

Ryan Patrick owns the Pizza Shack in Madison and The Bank by Pizza Shack in Clinton.

"Our focus is really to keep our guys employed," said Patrick.

The small business owner never thought he would be doing curbside service but in the days of COVID-19 he’s doing what he can to keep the operation running.

But more importantly, he wants his 40 employees to keep their jobs.

“I think for a lot of them the greater fear is going without a check and not knowing the uncertainty of when you’re gonna get paid,” said Patrick. “So, everyone has chosen to be here. We put out a letter a few weeks ago saying if anyone want to take a leave of absence they’re welcome to. We’ll pay them for a couple of weeks.”

Madison resident Michael Dawson met his wife Wanda for lunch. They’re coping and trying to eat local during the outbreak.

“My wife only gets a certain time for lunch. I work at night so we have to get together at lunch,” said Dawson. “If we eat then we have to eat in the car or find a place like this, you know? So it’s got a little inconvenience to it."

Patrick feels he also has an obligation to give back the community. He’s donated bags of free vegetables to families after finding them in inventory at his Jackson supplier.

“We bought them up and we just bagged them up. We still have a few bags left at both locations and anyone that needs them whether they’re a customer or not, they’re welcome to come by and grab some,” added the generous business owner.

“We always enjoy eating at Sweet Mama’s, we know the food is good,” said Clinton resident Jerry Rankin.

He and wife Bobbye Rankin used curbside service Monday at Sweet Mama’s Kountry Kitchen in Clinton.

They are supporting one of their favorite local restaurants, although they can’t dine inside the building.

“It’s very inconvenient because so many places are closed and just being retired we like to eat out occasionally, and there’s just many places. We can’t go in a restaurant and eat anymore. So we still enjoy the food if we can keep them open,” said Rankin.

Felicia and Bennie Jenkins own the restaurant and have employed curbside and changed the way they operate to remain open.

The small business has a lot of elderly customers and staff relying on them.

“That means that those employees would have to got the unemployment office,” said Jenkins. “I do have as we speak 10 employees.”

City of Clinton Communications Director Mark Jones said restaurants and small business have been hit especially hard. The municipality wants to respect safety and health while making sure residents get prepared meals.

"On Facebook, Carry'd Away Clinton, there's a group and all of our restaurants are updating their operations on a daily basis," said Jones. "Again they are enforcing social distancing guidelines.

Jenkins says they go the extra mile for their customers without transportation.

"Homegrown meals, we'll bring it to the car," said the Clinton restaurant owner. "If not we will bring it to your home."

The City of Clinton offers an interactive map of open restaurants compliant with COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions at www.visitclintonms.org.

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