With the statewide prohibition of on-premise dining and restrictions on the size of gatherings, restaurants and retail stores in the Auburn area have been hit hard and responded by shifting their operations online, focusing on to-go orders, curb-side pickup and delivery.
The prohibition on on-premise dining in Gov. Kay Ivey's health order last week has sent shock waves throughout the business community, resulting in mass layoffs of service industry workers.
Matt Poirier, local restaurateur who co-owns The Hound and The Depot, had to lay off about 120 employees between his two establishments. He said he's trying to help keep them updated on all of the resources available to them to help navigate the crisis.
Poirier and other area restaurants are also trying to find new ways to keep the public fed and their businesses afloat at the same time. Many restaurants that didn't shut down altogether have shifted to online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery. Poirier said the process has been like opening two new businesses all over again.
"We're trying to make a go of it. We're trying to come up with creative ways to get some revenue; we're trying to adjust hours and pay, everything. Everything is being reassessed at this point," he said. "The big factor in all of this is we don't know how long it's going to last. Right now, I'm trying to plan for the worst-case scenario — this goes on for six months. If it goes on shorter than that, we'll be in good shape and we'll hire everybody back as quickly as we can."
The Auburn Opelika Tourism Bureau is also doing anything and everything it can to help out its partners and businesses in the community, said AO Tourism Vice President Robyn Bridges.
"It's devastating," she said of the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the businesses community. "I don't like to be a negative person, but our industry has been crippled by this. There's never been anything like it. People are comparing it to 9/11 in terms of travel, and it's just nothing like that. The occupancy in our hotels, the decline in that and in our partner businesses is really double what it was after 9/11, so it's unprecedented."
Bridges said AO Tourism has been working with the Auburn area's state legislators to encourage immediate funding relief packages.
"We're working at the state level to get something, hopefully, more immediate," she said. "These folks need grants or zero-interest short-term loans because if they have businesses to come back to in, God-willing, 90 days from now or whatever it turns out to be, it's going to take them a while to get back on their feet and they don't need interest payments and they don't need that debt added on to everything else hanging over their heads.
"We are a very loud, maybe annoying voice of advocacy on behalf of our industry because this is what makes our community; this is what makes Auburn/Opelika who we are. Without our small businesses, our restaurants, the places where we gather, our retailers, the places where we buy gifts and where we celebrate things, it's just not the same community. And so we understand the importance of it, and these are people, these are families. Their rent payments are due; it's the end of the month that's approaching and they're not working, so it's urgent and we're just trying to devise creative ways to do what we can to support them."
AO Tourism has already extended help to John Emerald Distilling Company in its effort to shift from producing spirits to producing hand sanitizing solution for restaurants and the local community.
"We saw that in another distillery in North Carolina, so we worked with them to do that and offset some of the cost of the products to keep doing that," said Bridges. "I would love to see the public buy gift cards, buy meals, buy take-out orders, curbside pickup, shop online locally as much as they can.
"Everybody's at home, everybody's having to make their own meals, whatever, but there are ways you can still patronize a restaurant. Even our caterers are making casseroles now that feed four, six or eight, so there are lots of ways you can support them still.
"If we're all stuck at home, there are three meals in a day and seven days in a week; surely we can all do two or three to reach out and support our neighbors who need us desperately."
AO Tourism is also rolling out a program to feed a restaurant team at another local restaurant every day, as well as reaching out to larger organizations, like the Hudson Family Foundation, to see if more can be done for affected restaurant, retail and hospitality workers.
AO Tourism is continually updating its list of open restaurants and retailers at www.aotourism.com.
Poirier has instituted more precautionary health measures at his restaurants, as have many in the Auburn area, and is also trying to push everybody to order and pay online.
"I just hope everybody can do their little part," he said. "If everybody does their little part as a community, we can come out of this, and take the shelter in place and take those warnings seriously because the sooner we do that the sooner we can get through this. There's some pretty strong evidence around the world that it works and we need to do it."
Poirier also suggested that community members communicate with restaurants and retailers to help meet their needs.
"How can we best serve you? Do you trust third-party delivery?" he said. "Communicate with your favorite restaurant. Everybody has their favorite couple. And what can we do for you? Leave comments, leave messages and talk to people around downtown about how can we serve them. ...With that information, we can adapt to hopefully better serve them."
Those wanting to continue to support Auburn's brick-and-mortar restaurants and the hard-hit service industry workers can order a meal or item online or buy a gift card to be used later, preferably after dine-in restrictions have been lifted. Many of the restaurants also utilize delivery services Tiger Town To Go, GrubHub or FetchMe Delivery.
The following is a list of contact information for restaurants in the Auburn area. Just because a restaurant is not listed does not mean it is not open or has to-go or delivery options available. With the evolving coronavirus situation, restaurant options might also change.
If a restaurant would like to be added to the list or removed, please email email@example.com.
• Acapulco's Mexican Restaurant is offering curbside pickup. Order by calling 334-444-8878.
• Acre is offering curbside pickup Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Orders can be placed online at https://direct.chownow.com/order/19133/locations/27451. Bottles of wine and beer are also available. Call 334-246-3763 and press 1 to order.
• Agave Loco Mexican Grill is offering delivery through third-party services and curbside pickup. Order by calling 334-826-0150.
• Amsterdam Cafe is offering curbside pickup of food, beer, wine and spirits. Order online at www.amsterdamcafeauburn.com or by calling 334-826-8181.
• Arricia is offering curbside pickup. Call 334-844-5140 to place your order.
• Auburn Popcorn Company is offering curbside pickup and delivery. Call 334-329-7700 to place an order.
• Barberitos Southwestern Grill is offering curbside pickup. Call 334-887-9838 to place an order or order online at www.barberitos.com.
• Baumhower's Victory grill is offering curbside pickup. Call 334-246-4180 or visit https://baumhowers.com to order.
• Block and Barrel Deli is offering delivery through Tiger Town to Go.
• Bow & Arrow is offering a limited-menu option for drive-thru pickup. Order online at www.bowandarrowbbq.com.
• BurgerFi to-go orders can be placed online at www.burgerfi.com.
• Cheeburger Cheeburger offers delivery through third-party services and to-go orders by calling 334-826-0845.
• Chicken Salad Chick is offering curbside, drive-thru and catering options. Order online at www.chickensaladchick.com/auburn or by calling 334-821-7770.
• Country's Barbecue is taking curbside to-go orders. Call 334-821-8711 to place your order.
• The Depot is offering curbside pickup of food and selling its bottles of wine to go. Call 334-521-5177 to place an order. Orders can also be placed online at www.allaboardauburn.com.
• Drafthouse is taking orders for curbside pickup or delivery. It is also offering can/bottle beer and growlers to go. Call 334-521-2739 to place an order.
• Eddie's Calzones is offering pickup and delivery options. Call 334-329-5111 or go online at www.eddiescalzones.com to place an order.
• Fratelli's Ristorante Italiano is offering curbside pickup. Order by calling 334-209-6363.
• Frutta Bowls is offering curbside pickup. Orders can be placed at www.fruttabowls.com.
• Good Karma is offering curbside pickup and delivery through third-party services. Order online at http://augoodkarma.com.
• Gourmet Tiger is offering curbside pickup by calling 334-821-9222 or delivery through Tiger Town To Go.
• Hamilton's on Ogletree is offering curbside service and delivery through Tiger Town To Go. Orders can be placed at 334-329-5886.
• The Hound is offering curbside pickup and selling many of its bottles of spirits. Order online at www.thehound-auburn.com. Delivery is also available through Tiger Town To Go.
• Insomnia Cookies is offering contact-free delivery. Order at www.insomniacookies.com.
• Jim 'N Nick's has drive-thru and to-go options. Call 334-246-5197 to order.
• Joe's Deli & Grill is offering curbside pickup. Call 334-209-6611 to order.
• Keo's Restaurant & Bar is taking take-out orders by phone at 334-246-3100.
• Little Italy Pizzeria is offering to-go orders as well as delivery through Tiger Town To Go. To order for pickup, call 334-821-6161.
• Louie's Chicken Fingers is offering curbside, call-in and drive-thru options. Order online at http://louieschickenfingers.smartonlineorder.com/.
• Lucy's is offering curbside pickup online at www.lucysauburn.com or by phone at 334-521-0391.
• Mama Mocha's Coffee Emporium is selling coffee at its front door using no-contact policy. Beans and merchandise can be ordered online for pickup or shipping at www.mamamocha.com.
• The Mason Jar has a number of options to order for pickup. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 334-734-0270 or send a Facebook message. Tiger Town To Go is a delivery option.
• McAlister's Deli is offering curbside pickup. Order online at mcalistersdeli.com.
• Mellow Mushroom is offering free delivery, curbside pickup or in-store carryout. Order online at https://order.mellowmushroom.com or call 334-887-6356.
• Mikata Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is offering takeout and selling bottles of beer and wine. Call 334-821-5305 to order to-go or visit www.mikatarestaurant.com to order delivery through FetchMe.
• Moe's Original BBQ is offering curbside pickup at its Bent Creek location. Order by calling 334-329-7049.
• Moe's Southwest Grill is offering curbside pickup. Order online at www.moes.com or by calling 334-466-8035.
• Momma Goldberg's Deli is offering front-door pickup at its Magnolia Street location. You can order by phone at 334-821-0185. The drive-though at its location on Longleaf Drive is also open.
• Mylks Cookies is taking curbside to-go orders at 334-209-1523 and using Tiger Town to Go, FetchMe, and GrubHub.
• Newk's Eatery has curbside delivery, Order online at www.newks.com.
• Niffer's Place is offering curbside pickup. Order online at www.niffersplace.com/auburn or by calling 334-821-3118.
• Qpot Hot Pot Restaurant is taking orders for takeout and delivery at 334-209-2811.
• Philly Connection is offering pickup service. Order online at https://squareup.com/store/PhillyConnectionAuburn/?t=merchant-fb&fbclid=IwAR3aVP1ekMTKkCc5WSG7s0r6fxw2cPXh3HylhouVwnLGp50JH-w2AnzkRHc.
• Pita Pit can be ordered for carry-out or delivery. Go to www.pitapitusa.com or call 334-887-1010 to place your order.
• Rock N Roll Sushi is offering carryout orders and using Tiger Town To Go. Call 334-329-5100 to place an order.
• Ross House Coffee has online ordering available at www.rosshousecoffee.com.
• Savanh Thai Kitchen is offering curbside service and taking orders by phone at 334-246-3088 and online at https://www.toasttab.com/savanh-thai-kitchen/v3.
• Sheila C's Burger Barn is offering pickup or drive-thru service. Order by calling 334-283-5200.
• Smoothie King is offering online ordering at https://smoothieking.olo.com/menu/smoothie-king-1499-s-college-st.
• Taco Mama is offering curbside pickup and delivery through third-party services. Call 334-734-5030 to order.
• Tacorita is offering delivery through Tiger Town To Go and GrubHub and curbside pickup of food and alcohol. Call 334-821-9595 to order.
• Taqueria Durango can be ordered online at www.durangotaqueria.com.
• Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe has curbside pickup. Order online at www.tazikiscafe.com.
• Tiger VR Cafe is offering to-go ordering at https://go.lavutogo.com/tiger or by phone at 334-209-1886.
• VooDoo Wing Company has a drive-thru option. Call 334-329-7777 to place an order to-go.
• Which Wich is offering curbside pickup and delivery through third-party services. You can order to-go online at www.wichwich.com.
• Wing's Etc. is offering pickup orders online at www.wingsetc.com and delivery through third-party services.
• Zoe's Kitchen is offering pickup or delivery. Order online at www.zoeskitchen.com.
• Zoner's Pizza, Wings, & Waffles is taking orders for pickup or delivery by phone at 334-246-3179 or online at https://zonerspizza.