Small businesses continue to adjust operations during COVID-19 pandemic

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina’s governor closed all restaurants and bars to dine in customers.

While Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has not made an announcement regarding the closure of restaurants, some businesses in our region are making changes of their own.

Firehouse Restaurant CEO Tom Seaton said they are still taking calls and pick-up orders, but the regular dining area is closed.

“Right now, we’re doing the carry out,” said Seaton, “just so we can keep our team busy, so we can [get] our team some hours, that’s the big thing for us.”

He said the changes are affecting employees.

“We’ve got some employees who still live at home, so that’s a lot easier for them, but we also have some who who have bills to pay,” Seaton said. “They’re all on board with trying to get our carryout really going well so we can employ as many as possible.”

Jamie Dove is the owner of three businesses: Main Street Pizza Company in Johnson City and Kingsport, as well as County Line Pie in Limestone.

He said those businesses have temporarily stopped operations.

“This very well could start a snowball effect that we lose everything,” said Dove, “but I think that we had to do what was right by first the employees and second the public.”

Main Street Pizza Co. in downtown Johnson City has temporarily stopped operations.

He said he also hopes his decision will move others to do the same.

Dove said this will allow employees to collect their unemployment benefits earlier and help with social distancing.

“We’re going to break all the food down and give it out to everybody with their final paycheck, we’re also going ahead and cutting a final paycheck,” he said.

Both sites are encouraging the community to continue supporting local businesses.

Since Main Street Pizza Company has temporarily stopped operations, they will be selling gift cards to buy future pizzas or menu items.

Dove said they hope to move to an abbreviated situation in the near future, but will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19.

Firehouse Restaurant hopes to implement a curb-side option later this week.

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