Restaurants innovate to keep customers during coronavirus outbreak

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Restaurants along the normally bustling Capital Street in downtown Charleston are having to get creative to serve customers after Gov. Jim Justice issued an order closing restaurant dining rooms amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Peanut Shoppe is one of many restaurants offering curbside pickup as West Virginia has closed dining rooms.

A handful of businesses have closed, but a majority have remained open with different hours and service options.

"Usually the streets are packed," Charleston Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) President Tim Brady said. "I pulled up and found a place to park right away. The streets are kind of empty."

To help bring more people to support the business, the CVB created this website with updated information on what each business is offering.

"You're talking about waiters, waitresses, bartenders that survive on tips, but also don't forget about the line cooks in the restaurant and the people behind the scenes that are not able to make the food in the same capacity because the restaurants aren't seeing the same volume," Brady said. "Those are the people we think about when we put the list together of restaurants you can continue to patronize because there are people whose day-to-day life depend on us eating out, frankly."

One of the businesses staying open is The Peanut Shoppe. Owner Adam Kimble is the third generation in his family to run the store during the past 70 years and said it has weathered worse.

Employees were given the option to stay home if they didn't feel safe and cleaning supplies have been stationed around the store to use after every customer visits.

"This is just another thing that is slowing business down," Kimble said. "Really, really slow but we are here and I don't really want to call it quits until the last minute."

The Peanut Shoppe has done curbside pickup in the past because of a lack of parking, Kimble said, but this time it's to make sure customers are able to stay comfortable and safe as the coronavirus spreads.

"People don't want to come out," Kimble said. "We accommodate any order. We will run it right to your car, that way no one has to come in contact or even be on the sidewalk. We can bring it right to your car."

Employees said they got about a quarter of the business they would get on a normal Thursday and have stopped constantly making more nuts. Kimble said they will remain open as long as people continue to come to the store.

"Without all of these restaurants and shops there is no tourism industry in Charleston," Brady said. "Now during this time, instead of promoting travel and tourism, we want to promote people supporting these local businesses that are the back bone of our tourism economy in Charleston and the rest of West Virginia."