ATHENS, Ala – Many restaurants and businesses were already making adjustments before the state officially closed dining areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our coworkers were volunteering to give up their hours to let their fellow coworkers pick up the hours they need,” said Josh Tarokh, the owner of Village Pizza.
As some eateries close up entirely, Village Pizza is relying on pick-up orders and 3rd-party delivery services. Almost every restaurant and small shop on Athens Main Street has a take-out sign, reserving parking in front of their businesses.
“This isn’t an opportunity to capitalize as far a business goes. It’s just an opportunity to survive, look out for each other, and not panic,” said Tarokh.
The signs could not come at a more crucial time. Athens Main Street had them made just before the global pandemic shattered the economy.
“I had about 4 hours to get the first wave of these signs done. Athens State University helped with that and they were great,” said Tere Richardson, the Executive Director of Athens Main Street.
The local chamber of commerce is working with other small businesses to display the signs outside of the Main Street area.
As for Village Pizza, the last few days have been about survival. Business around dinner on Thursday night seemed to pick up some as locals tried to support their friends and neighbors.
The owners know losing money is inevitable. However, they have a staff that is relying on them to stay open. So all options are on the table.
“Lowering your inventory. Working on easy to make items that have a longer shelf life. Doing packaged family meals. Also having a limited menu is important,” said Tarokh.
Athens Main Street is considering doing personal shopping videos for small, non-food related shops. They hope people can still find ways to shop locally from the safety of their own home.