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Charlotte bar sells groceries, supplies amid COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Apr. 25, 2020 at 6:07 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Most small businesses are struggling to keep its doors open during the pandemic shutdown.

While some are just hoping for the best, others are trying new ideas and concepts to keep them afloat.

The Dilworth Neighborhood Grille is taking the term “food service” in a different direction.

The coronavirus, and what’s come along with it, has been hard on everybody.

Most businesses have had to shutter their doors, but some people like the folks at the Dilworth bar, are taking a more creative approach.

“No one wants to lose everything they’ve worked their entire life for,” said Dilworth Neighborhood Grille owner Matt Wohlfarth.

At Dilworth Neighborhood Grille in Charlotte, the owner is stacking up toilet paper where the vodka usually goes. He’s retooling his bar into a grocery store to help the business survive.

Wohlfarth says he got the idea from one of his venders who suggested he could add to the bottom line by selling everything from chicken and beef to chocolate syrup and cranberry juice.

Charlotte bar sells groceries, supplies amid COVID-19 pandemic
Charlotte bar sells groceries, supplies amid COVID-19 pandemic(WBTV)

WBTV caught up with Wohlfarth Saturday night as he was scrambling around his restaurant getting ready for the evening rush.

However, there will be no table-top service there. Instead, they’re giving a new meaning to the term “bar food.”

“We were definitely committed to staying open anyway we could,” Wohlfarth said.

However, that’s not that easy in the age of the coronavirus where small businesses everywhere are in real danger of not making it to the other side of all of this.

Bethany Lamoy, the service manager at the bar, was caught off guard by how much has changed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting this," Lamoy said. "I was expecting a few businesses to shut down and for business to slow a little bit, but I definitely wasn’t expecting this.”

The shutdown hit the grille hard.

Most of the staff was furloughed and takeout was really the only thing it could do.

To keep his business out of the red, Wohlfarth got an interesting idea from one of his food distributors.

“Our food rep came in and said, 'hey, you should become a grocery store,” Wohlforth said. “Thank God I did.”

The restaurant was retooled to become a bar, a takeout hub, and now a supermarket.

The owner was even hustling to put up toilet paper where they normally stock the vodka.

“We have everything," Wohlfarth said. "The milk, the chicken, the tuna, whatever you want.”

With the extra income, Wohlfarth was able to bring back a third of his staff to try to keep up with the extra demand. Even he was surprised at how successful it all has been.

“I didn’t think I could even make money on this," Wohlfarth said. "I thought, at best, we would just break even, and it would be a loss leader that way. But there is some room where everyone wins.”

Lamoy echoed her boss’s enthusiasm.

“He’s always done what he needed to do to make his business survive," she said.

Wohlfarth says he encourages other businesses to get creative and rethink strategies so they can survive as well.

“But, like anything, it’s not just enough to just do it," Wohlfarth said. "You have to do it well.”

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