Biz report steady sales despite fewer customers


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Even though icy roads are keeping some of their customers and staff at home, some area restaurants and stores were still doing a steady business on Friday. 

“Business has been considerably pretty good," Todd Basnight, of Andy's Pancake and Steak House off West Ehringhaus Street, said. “We're going to close early today, but I mean, yeah, it has been a pretty good day.”

Basnight said Andy’s “probably had 12-13 tables” occupied with customers when he took time out to speak to a reporter by phone.

“Surprisingly, we have right many customers in here,” Basnight said. “No complaints here.”

Basnight said 90 percent of customers were ordering breakfast, which the diner serves throughout the day.

Andy's did shorten its hours on Thursday because of the storm. The diner was open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.; normal hours that day are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Basnight said he probably would close by 3 p.m. on Friday.

Including Basnight, Andy's was operating on Friday with seven employees. Typically, there are 10 on duty.

Business was also good Friday at the Circle II Restaurant off South Hughes Boulevard.

“We are open and running full speed, dear,” waitress Kim Craiglow said.

Craiglow said Circle II operated on limited hours on Thursday, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. The restaurant usually closes at 9 p.m.

Even so, the Circle II was busy on Thursday. She said business on Friday had been “pretty decent” so far. The Circle II planned to close at its normal time Friday.

Craiglow said the storm’s impact on the restaurant’s staffing had been minimal. The Circle II’s staff is small, she said, with no more than one waitress working at a time.

At the Elizabeth City Applebee's, also off South Hughes, server Kaitlyn Day acknowledged business on Thursday had been slow. As a result, the restaurant, normally open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., closed at 4 p.m.

Asked about business on Friday, Day said, “A little bit better, but still pretty slow.”

Day said customer traffic is probably down because people are heeding officials' warnings to stay off the icy roadways.

One local business is off to a good start in 2018 — largely because of the winter weather.

Norman Schultz, owner of Don's Place off West Ehringhaus, said he was open on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., selling a variety of hardware and tools. Customers came in and bought salt, shovels and sleds, he said.

"Anytime it snows or there's ice, you can sell a lot of salt," he said.

Even so, Schultz estimated business on Thursday was about half what he normally does during a typical day.

Schultz also made sure Don’s Place was ready for customers on Thursday. He and a neighboring business hired a plow operator to remove snow from the parking lot. He said they had the parking lot cleared because, with the cold temperatures, they knew it would likely be full of snow for days.

Asked how business was on Friday, he said, "Steady," as customers came for the same winter-response supplies. He said he planned to stay open until 5 p.m.

Most of the large chain stores in the Elizabeth City area are operating more or less on their normal schedules.

Walmart spokeswoman Tara Alston said in an email Friday the Elizabeth City Supercenter at the Shoppes at Tanglewood is operating on its usual 24/7 schedule.

Mickey Nye, regional vice president of operations for Supervalu Retail East, which owns the Elizabeth City Farm Fresh, said the supermarket planned to close at 9 p.m. Friday but would back on its regular schedule today, which is 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Nye acknowledged the supermarket, located off South Hughes Boulevard, is operating with limited staff.

“We do have limited staff, based on folks' ability to travel,” Nye said.

Belk spokesman Andy Izquierdo said the Elizabeth City store reopened at noon on Friday.

Dollar General spokeswoman Angela Petkovic said the chain's stores across the region are operating on normal business hours. The chain’s stores vary, with some opening as early as 7 a.m. and others opening at 8 a.m. All close at 10 p.m.