RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Frank McNally proudly showed off the gigantic smokers in the kitchen at The Pit BBQ where the pork shoulders, chicken and ribs looked as delicious as ever. But in the midst of the pandemic, it takes more than mouth-watering barbecue to lure customers back to dine-in.
"We do very good-to-go business. So that business has continued and grown at the same time. But, yeah, we're down, quite a bit right now," McNally said.
To get barbecue business back up, The Pit is doing all it can to ease customers' COVID-19 concerns by implementing an entirely new cleaning protocol amid the new socially-distanced and reduced-capacity dining room. They've even secured permits from the city to shut down Commerce Street to traffic -- to allow space for 12 picnic tables to give diners an outdoor experience where they may feel safer.
"I mean we're doing it correctly. You must wear your mask to come in. We're sanitizing all the tables," McNally explained. "We have bags for your masks. We have hand sanitizer."
On Fayetteville Street, the pandemic did a number on the packed crowds at Jimmy V's Osteria + Bar.
"We would normally be packed full of people," said assistant manager Lindsey Norwood who detailed how the downtown dining staple is trying to convince customers it's safe to return.
"Hopefully by (customers) giving us a shot. And by just following the protocols. All of our staff is wearing masks, their gloves, washing hands, cleaning tables with proper products," Norwood said.
For the second night in row, Dave Cavanaugh and his wife Nancy were dining in at Jimmy V's. The couple in Raleigh to move their daughter into NC State for her first year in college.
"I guess what I want to feel is not being close and rubbing shoulders with folks. And that's what I liked about it here. There's plenty of space," Cavanaugh said.
But not every customer comes with the comfort-level of the Cavanaughs. Jimmy V's and the rest of Raleigh's restaurant establishment is still working to find more.
'We're doing everything we can do," Norwood said. "Because it's all about the safety of the guests and we want them to have a safe experience."
Governor's COVID-19 curfew on alcohol sales for restaurants that took effect at 11 p.m. Friday night added another challenge. But the big message from restaurateurs on as the weekend got underway seemed to simply be, "come down a visit."
Click here for a list of outdoor dining options in downtown Raleigh.