Many folks have expressed sadness about us closing Beale Street Barbeque seasonally for fall-winter 20-21. While we are sad for our staff that has been loyal and brave in the face of personal risk and constant uncertainty, and we regret that our guests will not be filling their bellies and soothing their souls with our food, there is no need for condolence.
In fact, as the primary owner and operator of Beale Street Barbeque for 25 years, I consider myself fortunate to be able to make a decision based on known quantities in a time when much is unknown. Our business has thrived over the years and even since March we have been overwhelmed with the support of our awesome guests. Operating without the sales potential of a full dining room, while facing down what is sure to be a challenging fall and winter (which can be daunting to face on a good year), makes the decision easy for me.
I feel for the majority of business operators that have no choice but to push ahead against the odds. Hopefully, our decision will help some of them nearby. It is unfortunate in our industry that in some cases restaurants trying to protect the public health and abide by the current restrictions are being cannibalized by those that don’t. That is a tough pill going into weather that makes take out and curbside business less popular to diners.
Food service workers are high on the list of groups that suffer the health and economic consequences of the covid-19 pandemic. My heart goes out to all the workers in this industry. It is a tough job to begin with and it has gotten much tougher this year.
This brings me to what makes me sad. The restaurant business, especially the independent restaurant business, is a not just a service that provides food and drink. It is, en mass, a hub of our culture. Owners, chefs, cooks, servers express themselves and provide nourishment and “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” for many, a community for others. Most of us that work here consider the social aspect an important, if not the most important reason why we are in the business. A dining room full of people enjoying great food and delicious beverages, smiling, laughing, sharing their meals and their lives, that is what an independent restaurant strives for. That’s what makes it fun. The covid has robbed us of that, and robbed our guests.