Greenville business leaders choose safety over sales

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 8:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 9:04 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As of Monday, East Carolina University has 125 cases of COVID-19, which is about half the cases so far that were identified at similarly sized UNC-Chapel Hill. Unlike Chapel Hill, ECU has not yet made the decision to switch to online.

WITN reached out to businesses neighboring the campus that often rely on revenue from students to get through the year. The consensus among these businesses is that safety is still the priority.

Owners say they appreciate and are benefiting from having students here in town, but in the event that campus does shut down, they hope to find ways to make it work.

Restaurant owners are trying to keep smiles on their faces as they serve their customers, including the tens of thousands of students that just returned to campus already facing the possibility of moving to online-only instruction.

“We have some people that think it’s ridiculous that we’re taking precautions, and then another part of our community thinks we’re not doing enough,” said Matt Scully, owner of popular brunch spot The Scullery.

Chico’s Mexican Restaurant managing partner Hunter Cross admits they’ve had their good days and their bad days since students came back to Greenville, but he says he’s just glad they’re back for now.

“If students went home, we’d lose probably about 20 percent of our sales, at least,” he said.

As Scully puts it though, safety comes before sales.

“I especially think about staff and faculty, a lot of them are older and have other pre-existing conditions that make them more at risk, so it’s just a hard decision to make and one I believe should start with public safety and science first.”

Scully’s comments come knowing it could mean fewer people getting brunch before heading to campus this fall.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world,” Scully said, “but it would be another shot in the gut, not any fun. But we want them to be safe and be able to learn well, and you can’t do that with people getting sick.”

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