Coastal town adopts method to help businesses still hurting from pandemic

Leaders in Southport have taken steps to let businesses open outdoor services
Updated: Dec. 14, 2020 at 9:31 PM EST
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SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - The COVID-19 pandemic has made it anything but business as usual for months. Because of restrictions on the number of people allowed indoors at shops and restaurants, owners who once had booming businesses have worried about closing down.

Leaders in Southport have taken steps to let businesses open outdoor services.

“Put tents up, put seating outside; it’s very important so they can expand their business space,” said Mayor Joe Pat Hatem.

This move is similar to Wilmington’s Downtown Alive, helping businesses recoup their pandemic losses.

You’ll see it just about everywhere you go in Southport, including here at Dry Street Pub and Pizza.

“I was down about 30-35 percent and it’s basically taken care of that,” said Sheila Barbee, Owner of Dry Street Pub and Pizza.

The updated indoor capacity restrictions put in place by the governor hurt the bottom line, until approval came for outdoor seating.

“Our Friday nights were crazy; we’d be on a two to three hour wait for Pizza,” said Ashley Kincaide, General Manager of the pub. “But outdoor seating has gotten us back to where we need to be.”

Owners have taken steps to deal with the cooler temperatures by putting heaters by the tables. They hope keeping customers warm will keep them coming back.

It’s helped these businesses recover from the pandemic and from Hurricane Isaias.

“Our business district has come back and for the most part is flourishing,” said Hatem.

As for just how long this will last, city leaders have added it to their emergency declaration. This means as long as that declaration stands, you can expect outdoor business to stick around.

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