MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Restaurants in Shelby County are now allowed to stay open later. But some owners say they’re worried that a lot of restaurants won’t survive without a huge showing of support this winter.
“We’re exhausted. We’ve been twisting and turning for six months,” said Kelly English, owner of Second Line and Restaurant Iris.
Chef Kelly English, owner of Second Line and Restaurant Iris in Midtown, says it’s a welcome relief to see the Shelby County Health Department push closing time for restaurants from 10 o’clock to midnight.
“I think it’ll be great. I think there are definitely restaurants that, that is where they make their money,” said English.
The health department’s most recent health directive also allows restaurants to expand the limit of customers at a table from six to eight.
English says he and other restaurant owners are worried about business during the end of the year with colder temperatures and wet conditions leading to less customers eating outdoors, which scientists consider safer in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
“The winter is going to be tough on us, when you talk about not having outdoor dining. It’s going to be really cold, it’s raining today. We need continued support, we need that wave of almost patriotism we saw when this first started to carry us through,” said English.
English and other local restaurant owners have teamed up with Memphis Tourism and the City of Memphis. They’ve produced a PSA, encouraging Memphians to support local restaurants.
“The city is pumping their tourism dollars to make sure we’re spending our own money on our own communities. We don’t have people traveling here, we don’t have people in the hotels like they traditionally would be,” said English.
English says as restrictions continue to be removed, it won’t mean anything if people don’t go spend their money and help keep restaurants alive.
“The only way we’re going to get through this time is if Memphis comes out and really gets our back,” said English.
The health department says enforcement will be crucial moving forward with looser restrictions on restaurants.
English says it’s critical all restaurant owners follow the rules to keep COVID-19 cases down allowing for the health department to continue lifting restrictions.