'Heartbreaking:' Triangle restaurants grapple with more layoffs amid COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Backyard Bistro restaurant in West Raleigh is like many statewide that are trying to stay open through curbside pickups and deliveries, but they don't know if that will be enough.

Backyard Bistro had about 40 employees only 7 are still employed.

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"I didn't realize how much I missed that interaction until I couldn't have it anymore," said Travis Hinley, a bartender for Backyard Bistro until last week.

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On Monday, Hinley and approximately 30 hourly employees were laid off.

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"This place is pretty much like family to me."

Hinley is among the nearly 140,000 North Carolinians and growing who are now out of a job and waiting for benefits.

Hinley told ABC11 he feels stressed and frustrated.

"Sometimes people don't want solutions they just want comfort. That's pretty much all I need right now is comfort," Hinley said. "I don't have anything right now."

Joe Lumbrazo, co-owner of Backyard Bistro hired Hinley four years ago.

"It's heartbreaking," Lumbrazo is now relying on 7 salaried workers to manage curbside orders and deliver food.

Profits from his catering, food truck and restaurant sales are down 95 percent.

He said cutting the salaries of his remaining employees will be a last resort.

"Right now we need the government to come together and stop fighting and work together and help us out here," Lumbrazo said. "We're struggling."

So many are on Tuesday's Great American Takeout, a nationwide effort of support.

Local restaurants and fast food chains switching to deliveries, curbside and drive thru orders to pay bills and stay open.

But with new COVID-19 cases and deaths each day and a pending federal bailout, will this be enough?

"If the companies we deal with are as tolerant and forgiving as we're going to be - we can go on for a little while - but not much longer," Lumbrazo said.

Backyard Bistro said some customers are leaving large tips with their bill, which allows them to share that money with employees who are out of work.
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