Petersburg restaurant closing its doors, owner says pandemic made it hard to stay in business

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:25 PM EDT
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PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - Charlotte’s Chicken and Waffles in Petersburg is cleaning up and clearing out after opening just three years ago. The pandemic is still having a devastating impact on area businesses, causing some to make the tough decision to close. Owner Randus Ayres said it became strikingly clear the demands of operating in a pandemic became too difficult.

“It’s bittersweet,” Ayres said. He didn’t think he’d be clearing out necessities he used in his business.

“We got a whole list of condiments over here,” he said pointing to items he’s removing from the restaurant, including food. “So it don’t go bad, I’m going to cook it up and do some donations throughout the city.”

Charlotte’s Chicken and Waffles, just down the road from Virginia State University, is closing its doors.

“I probably should’ve closed a long time ago. It was one of those things that you don’t really want to admit to you’re losing,” Ayres said.

He says the pandemic made it clear, he just couldn’t go on - especially when area students left due to mandatory virtual learning.

“A majority of my employees were college kids, and a majority of the customers were as well,” he said.

Then there’s the challenge to find new workers.

“I hear people [say] ‘Oh, I’m on unemployment,’ or ‘I’m looking for a job,’ and I offer you a job. They don’t want to take it...They’ll do an interview and then don’t show up for their day of work,” he said.

Many business owners can also relate to fluctuating prices for essentials to operate.

“Prime example was chicken went through the roof and people are looking at me like ‘why are you charging me so much for chicken?’ Then it comes down to ‘I’m not going to buy this. I’d just rather cook at home,’ then your sales go down...You got to pay your employees because if you don’t make money that day, doesn’t mean they don’t get paid,” he said.

It all began to add up.

“The bitter part is I’m losing the business and it’s bad because today is my mom’s birthday, and I named the restaurant after my mother,” Ayres said. Yet he is finding a reason to be thankful, he had the opportunity. “I can’t complain, I learned a lot.”

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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