With some local cities enacting restrictions on the number of people allowed in restaurants and bars and one shutting them down altogether due to the coronavirus pandemic, local entertainment venues are scrambling to keep up with the changes. 

In Brookhaven, Red Pepper Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant located in Town Brookhaven at 705 Town Boulevard, is using the city’s recent ordinance to shutter all restaurants and bars to help feed the homeless while also keeping the staff working. 

“I have fresh food, staff who want to work, and Atlanta has people who are hungry, so I figured this was at least a short-term solution,” Mimmo Alboumeh, owner of Red Pepper said in a press release. “Staff who don’t work in the kitchen can help with meal delivery.”

The city’s ordinance, which was approved at a March 16 City Council meeting, does not allow patrons to dine in but does allow take-out and delivery options, which allows the staff to still be working. 

Red Pepper will be delivering the food to both shelters and to people on the street and has enough food to feed up to 150 people, the release said.

Sandy Springs has allowed restaurants and bars to remain in operation, but a couple of establishments have voluntarily closed their doors to patrons starting March 17.

Battle and Brew, a gaming bar located in the Parkside Shopping Center at 5920 Roswell Road, will be closed for at least two weeks starting March 17, according to a press release on its website.

The kitchen will still be open, however, and customers can order through delivery apps, the release said.

Battle and Brew is also promoting their employees’ secondary means of income on social media to try to help alleviate the lack of work.

“We hope that you can find a way to support them as well if you’re in a position to help,” the release said.

Pontoon Brewing, a brewery located in the Northridge Business Park at 8601 Dunwoody Place, has closed its taproom to customers indefinitely starting March 17 and has implemented curbside pickup where patrons can order beer to-go online.

“In response to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the emerging crisis in the hospitality industry, Pontoon Brewing Company will be immediately shifting its focus from normal taproom operations to curbside service,” the post said. 

Just a day earlier, Sean O’Keefe, the owner of the brewery, said he planned on keeping the spot open as long as he could. But that was the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a statement that recommends canceling events with 50 people or more.

“We are just trying to keep our doors open and our employees paid but to make our businesses safe. We don’t have time or money to close and call it a day,” O’Keefe said at the time. “We’re trying to find a way to get our products to people without putting them in danger.” 

O’Keefe said he is worried about a potential shutdown of the hospitality industry altogether.

“It’s very scary to think about a complete shutdown of bars and restaurants, but I understand why it’s on the table,” O’Keefe said. “My life is tied to this business, my house, my car, and I’ve got an 8-month-old at home.”

The Sandy Springs City Council will consider an “emergency ordinance” at a March 17 meeting, but the document does not have language to shutter restaurants and bars or enact occupancy restrictions as of now.

NFA Burger, located inside the Chevron gas station in Dunwoody Village at 5465 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, has shut down its dining space and has switched to takeout orders only, according to a post on its Facebook page.

Dunwoody has not enacted an ordinance that requires a shutdown of restaurants and bars, but NFA said it is taking advice from Chick-fil-A, a fast-food chain that decided to close its dining rooms indefinitely starting March 16.

“We’ve chosen to adopt the government recommended guidelines as well of those at Chick-Fil-A and other leaders in the restaurant industry,” the post said.

The restaurant will be bringing orders directly to cars after the order has been placed to limit contact as much as possible, the post said.

Billy Kramer, the owner of NFA, said business is down but his location is fortunate to not rely on dining room service as much as others.

“Unlike most businesses, we’ve been able to operate as close to our original business model as much as possible, which is making things slightly easier,” Kramer said. “Some other businesses are not as fortunate [and] we’re offering as much support to all of them as we can.”

The Dunwoody City Council is set to hold a special called meeting on March 18 to consider passing an emergency ordinance declaring a “local emergency” but it is unclear whether it will include the closing of restaurants and bars.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on March 16 signed a new executive order that limits occupancy of restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, clubs and other public gathering spots to no more than 50 people. 

This story has been updated with a comment from the owner of NFA Burger, Billy Kramer.

Hannah Greco

Hannah Greco is writer and media communications specialist based in Atlanta.