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Even in phase 2, some businesses aren't ready to reopen

1 month 1 week 3 days ago Wednesday, June 03 2020 Jun 3, 2020 June 03, 2020 7:27 PM June 03, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Customers may be excited to go back to their favorite bars and restaurants staring Friday, but some business owners say it's still not worth it. 
 
According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce, nearly a third of small businesses did not reopen in phase one. That's something restaurant and bar owner Brad Watts says he completely understands. 
 
"I decided to kind of take a wait-and-see approach and find a time this summer when we're comfortable reopening," Watts said. 
 
His two restaurants, Kalurah Street and Cecilia's, have remained closed since the shutdown and most likely will stay that way through phase two. 
 
"Phase one they allowed us to switch from curbside to 25-percent occupancy. And at 25 percent, none of our business models are based off 25-percent occupancy, not in the restaurant biz. It's based off 100 percent." 
 
Watts says he also makes about 40 percent of his revenue from large, special events, something that will still not be allowed in phase two. 
 
"How can you willingly go into the restaurant business knowing that you can't be profitable? That's the part that just didn't make any sense to me.” 
 
And it's not just about profit, Watts says restaurants like his are also concerned about their employees. 
 
"There are people out there who are doing very well, people who have full dining rooms and are anxious to get started on phase two at 50 percent and that's great, but there are also a lot of restaurants out there who are sitting in expty dining rooms with angry servers who got off of unemployment and haven't seen the people return like they thought they might."
 
Though he says he's lucky to be able to be in a position to stay closed a little longer, a lot of businesses aren't. 
 
"It's not just about us. I mean, if you are in the retail business, any kind of business affected by the shutdown, everybody is hurting and I don't want to forget about those folks."
 
BRAC reported that, in total, small business revenue is down 25 percent since phase one. 
 
Watts does plan on opening his bar, The River Room, on Friday. 

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