Roswell restaurant owners worried about letting workers go due to coronavirus shutdown

Many restaurants are going to take-out only models as business owners try to navigate the coronavirus crisis.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Some owners of local restaurants say they will have to make some tough choices in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

Jasmine Willis runs Gracious Plenty on Canton Street in downtown Roswell. She told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik she was among the first to shut down her dining room and move to a takeout-only menu.

“To put this in words is a very difficult thing,” she told Petchenik. “People are going to lose their jobs. People are going to lose their restaurants. We may lose our restaurant.”

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Willis said she employs 14 people, but worries she will have to lay them off.

“We’ve had amazing support up to this point, but it’s just like I saw a comparison of the restaurant industry to the orchestra on the Titanic,” she said. “I couldn’t say it any better.”

Willis said she’s telling her employees they may have to apply for part-time grocery store jobs to make ends meet for the time being.

“The only thing we can do is help each other,” she said. “There’s power in numbers right now.”

Ryan Pernice operates three downtown Roswell restaurants, including Table and Main.

He told Petchenik he’s closed his dining rooms and has consolidated the menus from his restaurants into one takeout menu.

“The news changes every 15 minutes with alarming frequency,” said Pernice.

He employs about 130 people and had planned to hire more going into the spring “patio season.”

“My intention right now is to fight as hard as I can to keep everybody,” he said, "whether that’s full salary, full pay or something less than that.”

Pernice and Willis said they hope President Donald Trump makes good on his promise to offer subsidies to hurting small businesses.

“I don’t know how swift it’s going to be,” Willis said. “A lot of us need money now."

“We’re going to work on the best plan we can right here on the ground, and anything that comes from the government is welcome, vital and absolutely necessary for our long-term viability as a business and as an industry,” Pernice said.