Local cafe fears closing amid pandemic, says operations have been a struggle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in many ways. For restaurants, they have seen some of the worst effects.

Keeping the lights on at the Hanger Bay Cafe is owner Chris Straw’s top priority, but throughout this pandemic, that task has carried a heavier weight than expected.

“It’s a bit heart-wrenching at times,” he said. “Like, how are you going to be open?”

The cafe doesn’t get the limelight of chain restaurants and Straw says he’s been shorthanded by at least one or two people the entire time. He says when employees call out it impacts every aspect of the operation.

“That one person would’ve made a big difference in our productivity and our effectiveness trying to get through the day,” he said.

Straw tells Action News Jax they can only fit 35 people in the dining room. On any given day, including weekends, it could be a hit or a huge miss. During this pandemic, he says empty tables are something he just can’t afford.

“I can’t be confident that every day of the week we’re going to turn the tables 200 times or something like that. I just have no idea,” he said.

Since the pandemic has begun, Action News Jax has learned that over 10,000 Florida restaurants have shut down.

Straw says while takeout has significantly helped, he’s hoping getting more vaccines to the people will help make for a safer community and eliminate the struggles of holding on by a thread.

“The closer we get to people being comfortable, holding down full-time jobs with full-time pay, then the closer we will be as a city, state and country persevering over the pandemic,” he said.

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