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After pandemic drastically impacts The Colonnade Restaurant, customers donate to online fundraiser

Its pandemic business is down more than 60 percent.

ATLANTA — For many small businesses the cash that Congress approves for them now may be too little, too late.

Many businesses, including restaurants, have been struggling to stay afloat.

“It’s day-to-day," said Jodi Stallings, owner of the Colonnade Restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Rd. in northeast Atlanta.

This Atlanta institution and destination for southern comfort food for more than 90 years is fighting to survive.

Its pandemic business is down more than 60 percent, while costs are up. Stallings said the restaurant had to cancel Thanksgiving dinner, which is unprecedented. 

“(It was) the first time (we cancelled it) since we opened in 1927," Stallings said. "And Thanksgiving is a big day for us. A huge day for us. We usually serve 1,400 people. And we didn’t want to be a COVID hotspot, so we canceled....This building’s 8,600 square feet. And we’re using a third of it" because the tables are spread so far apart.

She said she doesn't anticipate people really going back to normal until the vaccine becomes readily available. 

"Our clientele, the median age, are the people that are worried" and at high risk.

Stallings is hoping Congress comes up with another round of cash for small businesses.

But after months of delays in Washington, she is apprehensive. 

“I don’t know that we can necessarily rely on that," Stallings said.

Her customers are doing what they can, donating to an online fundraiser to keep their beloved Colonnade afloat. That’s exactly what just saved another Atlanta institution, Manuel’s Tavern at Highland and North Avenues in northeast Atlanta, which was on the brink of closing.

RELATED: Saving Manuel's Tavern: Fundraiser meets goal in under 24 hours

Still, the COVID-relief bill that Congress may soon pass may include another round of cash for small businesses, possibly more than $300 billion.

Congressional negotiators struggled through a handful of remaining snags on Thursday. The holdups mean a weekend session now appears virtually certain, and a top lawmaker warned that a government shutdown this weekend can't be ruled out.

RELATED: Holdups on COVID-19 relief talks may force weekend sessions

Stallings said she's trusting her customers to come through.

“We count on our regular customers. The loyalty that we have, that’s the only thing I can count on," Stallings said.

“All of our customers say that they feel safe when they come in here, and I think that's important. And we’ve done everything to make everybody safe," Stallings added. 

The GoFundMe campaign has a goal of raising $100,000. As of Thursday night, more than $48,000 had been donated to save the Colonnade.

Neighbors of Loring Heights, a small neighborhood tucked away in northwest Atlanta, are trying to raise $10,000 to keep Endive Publik House open.

Endive, featuring Chef Drew Ihrig's signature dishes from Endive Fine Catering Atlanta, announced on July 28 that they were shutting down. 

"Thank you all for your overwhelming support throughout these trying times," the post said. 

They have since reopened for takeout only.

Neighbors hope the community will pitch in to raise $10,000 on GoFundMe to help the restaurant pay for their liquor license in 2021 and keep them open for good.

"Through these last nine months, we have continued to see an increase in GoFundMe campaigns for restaurants and their staff who have been laid off due to the closures and social distancing measures in place," Meghan Weltman, a spokesperson for the online fundraising website said.