The grassroots effort #CarryOutWednesday is calling on the community to support local restaurants hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic by ordering pickup or delivery on Wednesdays until the crisis passes.
With both Mayor Knox White and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster placing restrictions on dine-in seating, local restaurants are limited to only offering curbside pickup, take-out or delivery.
That means places like Gather GVL, the open-air food court that opened to large crowds just one month ago, are now essentially empty.
“To experience an unexpected and nearly complete shutdown of our business has been devastating to our family and the more than 50 employees across our five restaurants,” said Paul Klassen, co-owner of HenDough, one of the restaurant tenants at Gather GVL.
The full impact of the mass shuttering of dine-in areas is still impossible to grasp, but the scale of the industry can offer some indication. In the United States, we spend more on going out to eat at restaurants than we do buying groceries. The nation’s restaurant industry brings in about $899 billion in sales each year, with more than 1 million restaurants across the country employing about 15.6 million people.
Exactly how many of these people are now out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic is still tough to gauge, but even a fraction of them being laid off for the coming weeks will have ripple effects for months and even years afterwards.
“It affects everybody, far more people than the average consumer realizes,” said David Howard, president of the Neighborhood Dining Group, which operates restaurants across the South, including Husk in Greenville. “It affects the servers, the bartenders, the guy driving the truck, the farmers, the other suppliers. The ripple effect will be significant.”
For local eateries, though, the concern is not the ripple effect to come, but the impact right now. Restaurants already operate on razor thin profit margins, business has all but come to a complete halt, but financial obligations like rent, salaries and other overhead costs remain.
“Greenville’s small businesses need your support now more than ever,” Klassen said.
If you are participating in #CarryOutWednesday, tag your photos with the hashtag on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.