There are only five reported cases of COVID-19 in Stone County currently, but businesses are still having to alter their operations or close down entirely as a result of emergency regulations.
It’s been quite the adjustment for the owners of Bill’s Catfish and Steaks over the past few weeks. Bill’s Catfish and Steaks Owner Norma Gates said, “We have improvised and opened up one of our windows in our lobby for a drive-thru window, which our customers have been really appreciative and understanding.”
Bill’s is one of the many businesses in Stone County impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. While they have taken measures to make sure business continues and employees can continue to work on set rotations, they’ve still taken a hit. “Oh, we’ve lost probably 60 to 70 percent of our business. So, definitely hurting right now.”
Down the road on Highway 49, Sawmill Family Restaurant initially had to close its doors completely and stands to lose $60,000 to $75,000 a month in revenue. However, Owner Elaine Beckham has found a new way to help the community and bring some employees back to work at the same time. “I’ve been talking with my two major cooks and we’ve decided that we’re going to start doing some meals three or four times a week to take home, and it’s going to be family meals that can be picked up in the afternoon for them to take home for the evening time.”
Moving forward, local economic leaders say some businesses may take a permanent hit, but are confident in a long-term rebound to the local economy. Betsy Rowell with the Stone County Economic Development Partnership said, “We had a good economy before and I think once people are able to get back to work, there unfortunately will be some that are not able to reopen, but for the most part, I think people will be able to, and it will take awhile, but we’ll get back to going.”
A sentiment shared by business owners in the community. “I think with the encouragement that we have here in our community, we’re strong here and we have a lot of support, so I think we’ll come back better than ever.”