‘It’s been incredibly emotional’: Restaurant group president talks about difficulty of operating during coronavirus outbreak

‘It’s been incredibly emotional’: Restaurant group president talks about difficulty of operating during coronavirus outbreak

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The past week has been a challenging one for restaurant owners across the Carolinas due to the spread of the coronavirus. In both North Carolina and South Carolina, restaurants are no longer allowed to serve customers inside of an establishment. However, both states still allow restaurants to offer takeout and delivery items.

Mac’s Speed Shop in South End allowed customers to eat takeout meals on it’s patio Wednesday afternoon, but after a few hours, the president of the restaurant group that runs Mac’s said the patio would be closed off like the rest of the restaurant.

Shang Skipper, the president of Mac’s Hospitality Group, spoke to WBTV in a phone interview Wednesday.

He said he had received permission to allow customers on the patio from both the head of restaurants for the Mecklenburg County Health Department and the North Carolina Lodging and Restaurant Association.

Skipper said that employees were making sure no large groups were on the patio and they were following social distancing guidelines. He explained that he was just trying to help his employees by opening up outdoor seating for customers.

“Really, the reason that we did this is that when we laid off our employees yesterday, we had people that were in tears, not knowing how they were going to pay their rent, not knowing how they were going to pay their bills and when we found out that this was allowed this morning, we really wanted to help our employees,” explained Skipper.

He said it has been a difficult week for the restaurant and its’ staff.

“It has been incredibly emotional. It has been tough to make the kind of decisions that you have to make when you’re running an organization, but we’re just hoping that the measures that the government is taking help come out on the other side of this in good shape and ready to go for all the loyal Mac’s fans out there,” said Skipper.

The restaurant group president said he has been making sure the employees get to eat a meal when they come in to work. He said Mac’s Speed Shop will continue to stay open for takeout and delivery.

“We’ll stay open as long as we’re allowed to,” said Skipper.

A representative from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services sent WBTV the following statement regarding Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order as it pertains to restaurants:

The intent of Executive Order 118 is to limit the congregation of individuals by prohibiting sit-down service in restaurants. Congregation is strongly discouraged to limit the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are allowed to provide carryout, drive-through and delivery options. Restaurant staff are not permitted to serve patrons indoors or in the outdoor seating area. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, onsite consumption in the outdoor seating area is only permitted for carry-out food, and is subject to mass gathering restrictions and social distancing guidelines. Local law enforcement agencies and district attorneys are generally responsible for enforcement of the Order provisions. Law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce the Order pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 166A-19.30(a)(2) and violations are punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor in accordance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-288.20A.

In addition, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 130A-18 and 130A-25, failure to comply with the imminent hazard abatement order issued by the Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services may result in injunctive relief or prosecution for a misdemeanor offense.

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