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Restaurants get creative, make pivot to groceries to stay afloat

Georgia's restaurant industry was on track to make $25 billion this year

ATLANTA — As restaurants scramble to hold onto customers, one Sandy Springs restaurant found a clever way to keep business coming in. The owner opened a general store inside the restaurant.

Nancy Goodrich knew she had to do something different to keep Southern Bistro open. 

"We decided to open the general store," she said. 

She announced the decision on Instagram two weeks ago and added a menu of general store items to the restaurant's website. In addition to take out orders, the restaurant will sell meats, seafood, breads, dairy, dry goods and the most coveted - toilet paper.  

At a time when many restaurants are suffering, Southern Bistro has found a way to survive. 

"I don’t have to close down, so whatever we can do to keep the employees here and pay my vendors you know that works for me," Goodrich said.

Credit: WXIA

Before the coronavirus outbreak, Georgia’s restaurant industry was on track to make $25 billion this year. 

"We lost an estimated eight-hundred-thirteen million in sales in the first twenty-three days of March and lost more than ninety-six thousand jobs," said Karen Bremer, CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

While take-out service may be working for now, it might not be sustainable long term. 

"The volume of the carry-out and delivery for a full service restaurant is not enough to hit their break even point," explained Bremer. 

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Restaurant chains like Panera and Subway are also selling some groceries. Customers can now buy fresh items online and pick up curbside.

Without knowing when the virus will pass, restaurants will have to stay nimble and determined.

"I’ve been here fifteen years, and I’m never going to give up," Goodrich said.

Credit: WXIA

And customers will have to stay loyal.

"If you want your favorite restaurant to be around, the time is now to support that favorite restaurant," Bremer said.

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The Georiga Restaurant Association will send out a survey on Friday to check the pulse of the industry. Based on their last survey in March, 12 percent of restaurants were expected to close in 30 days. 

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