SUMTER, S.C. — Willie Sue’s has been a popular spot for locals in Sumter since it opened five years ago.
Now, staff is worried about the future as concerns of the coronavirus grow, leaving their restaurant empty.
A peak at their parking lot, typically buzzing, brings kitchen manager Greg Buttermore to tears.
“It’s kind of surreal to see it not full,” Buttermore said. “Our sales have greatly decreased. All of our front of the house, our servers, bartenders are out of work for the time being…. It’s going to be rough sustaining everything with only being able to have to-go business.”
This week, all in-restaurant dining was banned across South Carolina in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. It’s a move increasingly seen in more communities across the country.
Businesses continue to feel the effects and local leaders have turned to social media to try to help.
The Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce created the Facebook page ‘Sumter County, SC Take Out & Delivery Options amid COVID-19’ for local businesses to post take-out options and connect with consumers.
“Some of your larger franchises, they’re probably going to be okay through this,” Chamber CEO Chris Hardy said, “but some of your locally-owned restaurants, they need every dollar that they can, not just now, but in general.”
He’s encouraging locals to shop small and Buttermore hopes for the same as he considers the future ahead.
“It’s a little scary for me because it’s just the unknown factor,” Buttermore said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. They could shut everything down, so, you just have to leave it in God’s hands.”