TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Small businesses across Alabama are struggling because of the Coronavirus emergency. Many restaurants have to cut staff and lay off employees.
That includes Rama Jama’s, one of Tuscaloosa’s most iconic restaurants that sits next to Bryant Denny Stadium. Founder Gary Lewis says it’s been a struggle in recent weeks.
“It has really taken a toll on business as far as we are concerned,” Lewis said. “But these construction workers have helped us so much. Without those guys, we would probably go ahead and shut down to see where we are going with this thing. They come over at nine on their break and come back at twelve on their lunch break and that’s been the majority of our business.”
Owner Michael Hebron says as a result of COVID-19 concerns, Rama Jama’s is only doing roughly 25% of the business it normally does.
“For me, the difficult part is you have people who work with you all year long and business drops off so far that you have to take good people and cut back their hours and lay some people off,” Hebron said.
The business is doing everything possible to keep its doors open. Customers can’t sit inside, but you can get your food to do at a pickup window. Lewis says folks can also call ahead or Rama Jama’s can deliver your food to you.
“They order at the window, they can call in or we can deliver,” Lewis said. “So we are trying to accommodate the people as much as possible and stay within the guidelines of the state health department and everybody else.”
Construction worker John Stout is happy the iconic small business is still open. Dozens of his crews eat there every day.
“It means a lot because we stay hungry. My crews work night shift and we get off at noon and we were working 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and there wasn’t much to eat here,” Stout said. “They are the only place we can get to eat from. Everybody in Rama Jama’s treats us great and we like bringing business to them.”
So far, Rama Jama’s had to lay off three employees. Hebron is hoping this will only be a temporary situation.
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