Kinston bar hangs on amid tighter COVID-19 restrictions, curfew

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 8:05 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The National Restaurant Association urged lawmakers in a letter on Tuesday for more COVID-19 relief as hundreds of thousands of restaurants nationwide face closures with tighter restrictions amid the pandemic.

Restaurants and bars in Kinston have had to adjust before, but with a new statewide modified order beginning Friday, business owners fear being able to make it.

The Office Bar & Nightclub opened in August, relinquishing their liquor license because bars weren’t allowed to open at the time. They served only food, beer, and wine until October when they could sell liquor and get more revenue.

Local artists performed live every weekend, but on Dec. 11, the music ends, and so does work for some of their staff due to Governor Roy Cooper’s modified order to try to control the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s tough for small business owners to make it as it is, now you’re gonna impose more restrictions on us,” owner Chris Lavoie said.

Alcohol sales after 9 p.m. are prohibited starting Friday, which Lavoie said makes a significant difference.

His other bar and restaurant in Wilson, N.C. has taken a hit from limited hours before.

“Our numbers cut drastically in half from going to 2 o’clock in the morning to 11 o clock at night,” Lavoie said, concerned that many people won’t come out to bars early.

“Last night, I didn’t sleep,” Lavoie said. “I’ve been all day thinking of ways to try to be creative, to stay open, be able to provide for my employees, for my community.”

Although Lavoie praised Lenoir County and Kinston elected officials and law enforcement for their outreach, Lavoie called on the state government to do more.

“I want to see our government to do something to help us,” Lavoie said. “I do believe that Kinston will support us. They have supported us. If we leave, then you know, that’s just gonna be less and less that people are able to do in their community, and that’s less for us to be able to give back.”

General manager Sarah Luczaj said their team of 7 is reduced to less than a handful of employees, with double the workload.

Luczaj said the first weekend after the new modified order will help determine how they can move forward.

As local businesses try to survive financially, Brett Hood, a Kinston native, said he’ll do his part to help support small businesses.

“I mean, this is our friends and neighbors, people that I know that I’ve grown up with,” Hood said. “I like to have a little variety, restaurants, places to shop. It’s nice to have other options besides just shopping online all the time.”

The Office Bar & Nightclub will host a family-friendly Christmas event on Sunday, Dec. 13, with local vendors and catered food from 1 to 4 p.m.

Lavoie said the Office Bar & Nightclub would continue to follow the mandate on top of limiting capacity, wearing masks, and social distancing indoors.

The Office Bar & Nightclub is open Thurs-Sun from 6-10 p.m.

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