Struggle and survival in Raleigh's COVID-19 reality of curbside pickup only dining

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been a few days since the City of Raleigh installed the temporary curbside pickup signs in front of most of its downtown restaurants. They're aimed at making it as easy as possible for people to pull in and pick up their food while the city's restaurants and bars are forced to close their dining rooms. But on this first Friday night in this strange new world of Capital City dining -- we were out to see if it was working.

"It's kind of an eerie feeling, ya know. We're doing the best we can," said Logan Lancaster, a manager at Woody's City Market.

LIST: Triangle restaurants offer takeout, delivery as people practice social distancing to stop coronavirus spread

For a Friday night, the mecca for watching sports, was a lonely-looking bar at Woody's. Governor Roy Cooper's COVID-19 mandate on restaurants means no eating or drinking inside. So Woody's was looking for new ways to lure in customers; selling cans of beer and wine coolers for 50 percent off, as long as patrons took it to-go.

"We have a lot of regulars that come in. They're really helping us out. And the tips are amazing; keeping us here. They're absolutely tipping more," Lancaster said.

LIST: Triangle restaurants offer takeout, delivery as people practice social distancing to stop coronavirus spread

On Wilmington Street Friday night, Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson and her daughter were picking up a feast in the curbside lane outside Sitti. Johnson's a dean at Shaw University and doing all she can to support the Mediterranean restaurant that employs many of her students -- trying to help ensure the business survives the restaurant upheaval caused by the coronavirus.

"It's just so empty," Johnson said. "And so with the students gone, I still want to be able to support the business. So when they come back, our students can have a place to go and a place to be."

The curbside pickup line on Person Street's burgeoning restaurant row was the busiest we saw all night.
"This is about the first time I've been out all day," Wayne Riley told us as he waited for his take-out order to be delivered from Crawford and Son. "We come to Crawford and Son as often as we can. So we want to support them. So we saw they had take-out and it was like, well, let's get Crawford and Son to go."

Two doors down at Oakwood Pizza Box it was a thicket of take-out customers -- including Jamie Patel who just furloughed this week from his job as a bartender in Raleigh because of the crisis.

"Many people are supporting the local businesses like nothing's happening. But obviously it's different. But it's nice to see people don't treat it like it's different. They still want to support their neighbors and their businesses and still do the things they would do on a normal basis," Patel said.

Not all Raleigh restaurants are soldiering on through this new normal. At Clyde Cooper's Barbeque, a downtown Raleigh staple for over eighty years, owner Debbie Holt told ABC 11 she's been trying to keep her business open all week. But, while some days were good, some days were terrible - as many downtown offices are closed.

Holt says Friday afternoon she made the very hard decision to shut down until further notice -- allowing her employees to file for unemployment benefits.
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