COLUMBIA, S.C. — Some Midlands businesses are having to close their doors so their staff can quarantine and recover from COVID-19.
One of them is Mr. Friendly's in Five Points.
Ricky Mollohan, who owns Mr. Friendly’s, said COVID-19 ran through his staff, forcing him to close for more than a week during a time that is crucial for sales.
“When something like this happens, it completely puts you in a very tough spot."
Mollohan said his greatest concern was for his staff and their families. “You take each day and do the best you can, and hope to one day put this one day behind us," he said.
According a National Restaurant Association survey conducted in December, 41% of South Carolina restaurant owners said their restaurant had seen a decline in customer demand for indoor dining over the last three months.
Carl Blackstone with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce says this is yet another hit to the hospitality industry.
“When you close up for a week, you’re not collecting taxes, you’re not making sales. So, yeah it’ll pinch," Blackstone said. “It’s forcing some restaurants to shut down at, quite frankly, at a time when they can’t afford to be shut down.”
Rachel Hawkins, Director of Operations at Blue Marlin, says restaurants across the Midlands need all the help they can get right now.
"Business has been slower since the holiday season," Hawkins said. "So, we are really hoping we're going to gain some traction for all the local restaurants, and remind people we are a safe place to come and enjoy dinner.”
Customer Anne Bagnal says she'll be supporting one of her favorite restaurant’s this week, Mr. Friendly’s.
“I think this year, especially the last two years, it's so important because the restaurants have suffered terribly," Bagnal said. “They’ve had it rough, and we want them to survive and thrive.”
Mr. Friendly's is now offering gift cards for purchase in a bid to help boost sales. They are available on their Facebook page and their Instagram.