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Winter weather slows business for Columbia restaurants

Many restaurants were forced to close due to inclement weather Friday, putting a dent in an already slow month for business.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A rare snow storm virtually shut down Columbia Friday, with many businesses forced to close due to inclement weather. When local restaurants had to pick between making money or safety, they chose the latter.

The Aristocrat, usually filled with guests and live music on weekends, was empty and quiet Friday and Saturday nights.

The restaurant told News19 they closed for two nights in case of unsafe road conditions. Although roads were clear Saturday night, the risk of black ice was too high for the owners.

Down the street, Lula Drake Wine Parlour also closed Friday for the same reason.

“The roads were slick, there was snow, there was ice, so we made the decision to err on the side of safety,” said Lula Drake owner Tim Gardner. He said he was concerned about his guests and employees driving especially late at night.

However Saturday, Lula Drake reopened and customers enjoyed wine and warm refuge from the cold. Gardner was hopeful they’d make up for lost business. “Friday night is our biggest night so it definitely hurt our month. Just one night can put you in a bind,” he shared.

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The winter storm brought two inches of snow and icy roads to Columbia, but by Saturday night, roads downtown were clear of snow and full of cars.

“People are ready, I think, to get back out after spending a night in and enjoying the snow,” said Gardner.

The small business owner urged the community to eat local during this slow time of year.

"Restaurants are still having a very difficult time," Gardner explained. "January makes it more difficult, then you’ve got the pandemic, [and a] snow storm. Please get out and support whatever your favorite place is."

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