Acme Chef and Owner Kevin Callaghan shifted his Carrboro restaurant into a full-service takeout operation, but it’s not the same, he said. Customers haven’t dined in since March 17. And while he was able to bring back kitchen staff, “Our front-of-the-house staff has remained completely in limbo since the day Acme shut down,” he said. “It’s been pretty awful for them. … The hospitality end of the business won’t really exist again until we reopen our doors to dine-in service.” As difficult as it may be to remain optimistic, Callaghan and others continue to look on the bright side. “Now that [The Patio] has been open, we are busier than we were during March and April,” Whiteheart said
of Unscripted’s in-house restaurant. “I think that’s just because people are seeing the different measures that places have taken, and they want to get out of their house, stop eating their own food and really just [be] … somewhat normal again.” Even with many planned vacations now postponed, there have been trickles of local travel that might serve as a model for others to follow. Robert Kingsbury, for example, stayed at Unscripted in July. He stopped at the boutique hotel during an almost 10-hour drive from Atlanta to his home in Arlington, Virginia “I literally looked at a map and looked at what was about halfway on my journey,” Kingsbury said. “It was either
Greensboro or Durham. I had been to Durham probably 10 years ago for a friend’s wedding and remember it was a cute town. … I just needed to take a day off and relax. And honestly, I was really looking forward to having some time to myself.” He lounged poolside and ate at The Patio. No grand excursions out into the city – but it was something. Most importantly, Kingsbury didn’t feel that his safety was compromised, especially with the extra precautions taken by Unscripted. “I’m traveling, but I’m not just throwing everything to the wind and traveling,” Kingsbury said. “I’m doing it as safely as possible.” What’s still to be determined in Durham and Chapel Hill
– and across the hospitality industry at large – is how many people will adopt Kingsbury’s mindset. That answer ties directly into the hopes that a pandemic that has cost cities and towns so much in 2020 doesn’t linger, because there are serious concerns that this multi-month dip may morph into years. And regardless of federal subsidies, adjusted business plans and additional safety measures, most businesses cannot reasonably withstand that. If another wave of increased coronavirus cases sweeps across America, the long-term economic ramifications will be heavy. “The [Destinations International Annual Conference] projected [in July] that the travel industry is not going to totally come back
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7/22/2019 1:18:05 PM
The Food and Drink Issue