Raleigh business owner feels 'targeted' by COVID-19 precautions and enforcement

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- The owner of a Raleigh restaurant said he feels targeted by increased COVID-19 precautions.

A warning is up at Lady Luck and other Glenwood South restaurants warning customers that "social distancing is being enforced."

"Being brand new, we didn't get any help from anyone," Lady Luck owner Balu Torres said.

Lady Luck had been open a mere three days before the stay-at-home order was issued. There was barely any time to build up business.

"It was very hard," Torres said.

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His chic spot is situated on a stretch of Raleigh known for its nightlife. That area caught the eye of Raleigh leaders a few weeks ago when video showed crowds up and down the street, walking shoulder-to-shoulder with hardly a single person wearing a mask.

The city issued a face-covering requirement soon after.

"One hundred percent, I personally think it's been targeted," Torres said.

Torres is doing his part during the pandemic to open doors responsibly. He has two security guards on the weekends making sure patrons are social distancing and is also spending on sanitizing stations, masks and gloves.

Torres is doing this without receiving any PPP money or a low-interest government loan.

"Everything is an add-up so we are trying to operate on 50 percent, but our bills are even higher than before," Torres said.

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Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin recently held a meeting with Glenwood South business owners. She said the meeting was productive.

"We all felt that we're in this together," Baldwin said.

City ambassadors will be out this weekend helping with enforcement and handing out masks.

"Our hope is to continue that education effort. We don't want to start issuing citations to people. That's not a good use of our police time, but we do want to see compliance," Baldwin said.

Torres is fine with that, but doesn't feel he should be the one imposing rules outside the establishment.

"The streets, I'm sorry but I don't want to tell people what to do on the streets. I don't want to risk my people to tell somebody drunk 'Hey you cannot do this' or 'You have to wait with the mask on.'" He said he didn't want to put his employees in that potentially dangerous position.

The takeaway -- many of the restaurants along Glenwood South are gearing up for busy weekend and they are imposing rules once inside.

Small business owners, as well as city leaders, are strongly encouraging folks to do their part and patronize these places safely if you're planning to come down for dinner or drinks.
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