WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Something new is brewing at two downtown Wilmington businesses, closed since the start of the pandemic in March.
Husband-and-wife duo Dustin Cook and Edie Senter have owned and operated Pravda, located at 23 North Front St., for 13 years and KGB, at 16 Princess St., for 6 years. The two also DJ at the clubs. With the music silenced and dance floor empty for months now, they knew they had to adapt.
“We are so excited to just see people, to welcome people back in this new way,” said Senter.
Under Governor Roy Cooper’s Stay at Home order, bars remain closed but restaurants are open under limited capacity.
The business received a PPP loan at the start of the shutdown; however, that could not sustain the businesses for the length of the shutdown.
“We got into month three and four and it was obvious that we were going to have to get creative to get back open,” said Cook. “We are determined to reinvent our business and have something here that people can enjoy all day.”
Today, they celebrated the reopening with a ribbon cutting that included Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, Terry Espy of the Downtown Business Alliance and State Senator Harper Peterson, all heaped praises on the business owners for their resilience.
“We need our community support our small business owners,” said Saffo. They are really taking the brunt of this coronavirus pandemic. A lot of them have been closed for months and it has had an adverse effect on the economy, on our downtown but for these folks to re-purpose and spend their money to reopen is a testament to a them.”
Inside Pravda, shelves that were once lined with liquor showcase coffee. Along with cold brew coffees, draft lattes and hand-crafted coffee drinks and teas, beer and wine are on the menu.
Booths are separated by curtains to allow for social distancing. Hand sanitizing stations are set up, with bottles of sanitizer on the tables.
Customers can also dine in the fresh air at tables set up outside.
At the request of the Downtown Business Alliance (DBA), the City of Wilmington recently approved the expansion of Downtown Alive, which closes off some downtown streets to allow businesses to have more room to serve customers. It was set to end this month but will now operate through mid-October.
Terry Espy, of DBA, said she is thrilled that Pravda can now be a part of the program.
“This is the definition of resiliency,” she said. “Small business owners do not have a money God showing up on Friday to put money in the bank. This is a town that supports independent business.”
As he crafted a coffee drink, Cook said he feels as though he is returning to his roots.
He managed coffee shops in New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia prior to moving to Wilmington.
Senter said she still wants to get behind the DJ booth at the cafes - though the vibe will be different.
“There are elements of Pravda that are still here,” she said. “For example, my husband and I are both DJs so we will be DJing but trying to make people not dance maybe just move a little bit in their seats. So we will have a fun vibe happening in the evenings. I’m really excited about the daytime business and I’m gonna be working lunches so come out and see me!”
Once the pandemic is over, Cook and Senter plan to continue to operate the cafes.
The hope is that customers who enjoy a night out will return in the morning for that all-important cup of coffee.