• By Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

Local businesses struggle due to COVID-19

Big corporations and chain restaurants have faced setbacks due to COVID-19, but they’re not struggling like our local businesses are.

Restaurants such as Golden Corral, Outback Steakhouse, and Red Robin have all been affected during recent weeks. They have migrated to online orders and curbside pickup, still ensuring a plentiful profit for the nationwide chains. Other restaurants have not been lucky enough to provide such services.

Beach Dreams Café and Market is a small artisan shop in North Myrtle Beach. It offers coffee, wellness teas, CBD oil, soaps, essential oils and more. The owner, Mary Bruce, opened the café four years ago and never expected something like this to happen.

“It’s killing us, slowly. Today I have had two customers. I’ve made about six dollars,” said Bruce.

With the given circumstances, small business owners are scrambling. Beach Dreams is offering delivery for their products and curbside pickup for their drinks. Bruce has contemplated taking out a government loan, but in order to do so, she needs to continue paying her employees. She is torn, however, because how can she pay her employees if there is no business? If she cannot pay her employees, how will she be able to afford to meet her own needs?

Tyler Rice is the chef and owner of a new family restaurant in Carolina Forest called Cypress Grille. His restaurant opened on Feb. 29, merely weeks before COVID-19 had a severe impact on local businesses.

“You couldn’t ask for worse circumstances,” said Rice. “Luckily, we were open for a few weeks for locals to recognize that we’re here.”

Although we are in these hard times, Rice is keeping an optimistic attitude. He believes local restaurants are at an advantage to draw in more customers, versus a chain restaurant that typically seats 200 people. Cypress Grille is constantly updating their Facebook page with their menu and is also offering local delivery and curbside take-out.

Business owners are not the only ones worried about their shops and restaurants. Many residents go to these places weekly, making it a part of their routine.

“I’m always encouraging people to eat local because it supports our local economy and supports those who do not have the backing of a larger corporation,” said Jennifer Hupko, a Carolina Forest resident. “For example, places like: Lulu’s, Sun City Café, The Snak Shak, etc. are all local restaurants, owned by locals who need us to help them through this time. I feel confident that restaurants owned by larger corporations will withstand, but without our help, our local places may not.”

These are challenging times for everyone, so stay safe and if possible, order take out from your favorite local restaurant.

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