60 percent of Raleigh small businesses face closure amid COVID-19: Shop Local Raleigh report

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Thursday, September 10, 2020
60 percent of Raleigh small businesses facing closure amid COVID-19: Shop Local Raleigh report
60 percent of Raleigh small businesses facing closure amid COVID-19: Shop Local Raleigh report

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- All the TVs are on inside Tobacco Road Sports Café and they're streaming events, but the crowd sitting in front of them is certainly thinner these days. The sports bar is not drawing the same crowds as it did before COVID-19.

"You know everybody keeps talking about this 50 percent occupancy number. Sales aren't even at 20 percent of what they were," said Tobacco Road Sports Café owner Alex Amra.

Amra said business is great on Saturdays, but he's spending the other six days of the week struggling to bring in sales.

"A lot of us are needing help," said Amra.


A recent survey by Shop Local Raleigh found 60 percent of small businesses are facing closure.

More than 200 owners participated in the questionnaire.

When asked "What keeps you up at night?," one small business owner said, "Being able to pay my bills and keep my home." Another said, "No new clients. People are afraid to go out for services."

A string of small businesses have already closed on Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh and the landlord is trying to lease the spaces.

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Tobacco Road has shut down its Chapel Hill location.

Amra and his partners are working to save restaurants in Raleigh and Durham.

"You can't whine, you can't complain, what good does it do you? (You have to) move on, figure this stuff out," Amra said.

With sport teams finally returning in some form or fashion, Amra's hoping to lure in customers with a spot to catch a game.

He's planning to extend kitchen hours for football season and is saying a Hail Mary.

"If you're an entrepreneur, you better have hope. This is the way we do it. It's the only way to operate. The first rule of business is stay in business and we're going to try our best to keep our doors open and pray that maybe football does it for us," said Amra.