Downtown Raleigh businesses say they need a lifeline in plea to Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Several downtown Raleigh business owners met virtually with Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin on Thursday to discuss the next steps on recovery efforts.

"Restaurant people aren't afraid of working long hours, rolling sleeves up and doing what we need to do to try and make things work," said Ken Yowell, owner of Oak City Meatball Shoppe. "But this is probably the first time ever I just don't know what to do."

Ken has owned the restaurant for nearly six years and said this is the biggest challenge of his career.

First came the pandemic, then the peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd that turned violent leading led to businesses being boarded up.

He said many of his neighboring businesses haven't been to take down the plywood because they're having trouble getting the glass to replace the windows.

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Briggs Hardware is undoubtedly a downtown Raleigh institution. The business has been around for 155 years, but owner Evelyn Davis says lack of confidence in the mayor and police chief have led her to consider leaving her Hargett Street location.



"It's difficult," he said. "The restaurant business is on its best day is a hard business. Everyone is looking for answers, there are obviously no easy solutions to everything that's going on."

Ken said they talked about the rioting and how to come up with a plan to move downtown Raleigh back to some kind of normal. He sent an email to Raleigh's mayor and city council to express his concerns and worries as well before the meeting.

Woody's, Garland, Royale and Bittersweet were also on the call, according to Ken.

"We need money, we need funding, we need access to funds to kind of throw us a lifeline to hopefully again see us through to the other side," he said. "We need a marketing plan for downtown that lets people know that downtown is back and open for business."

Ken said he's considered closing up for a little to get his employees on unemployment. He also was grateful to his landlord-- Red Hat -- for working with him as much as possible.

"At the rate we're going, it would be difficult to see us being able to continue this for too much longer," he added.
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