Two new Decatur restaurants navigate double challenge of grand opening amid pandemic

Two new Decatur restaurants navigate double challenge of grand opening amid pandemic
Connie Tolbert, Lauren Riehl and Juanita Healy package a cake for a customer at Cheesecakes and More, which opened last month amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: Dan Busey)

DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - As long-established local businesses struggle to keep afloat, new businesses that planned to open their doors in March, April and May find themselves in uncharted territory.

Juanita Healy is the co-owner of the new Cheesecakes and More restaurant on Somerville Road, right across the street from Decatur Morgan Hospital. “It’s challenging. We had to figure out what we could and couldn’t do,” she said.

Speaking with our news partners at the Decatur Daily, Healy said the business took it’s first orders on April 6th. For the first several weeks, she was limited to take-out orders only. “It’s more labor intensive to package everything to go,” she said. “It’s a little more work, but we’ve been pleased so far.”

The newly opened Hard Hat Cafe is in the heart of Decatur's industrial area along Church Street Southeast.
The newly opened Hard Hat Cafe is in the heart of Decatur's industrial area along Church Street Southeast. (Source: Jeronimo Nisa)

Terry Gipson owns the Hard Hat Cafe on Church Street. It opened May 12th as restrictions on restaurants started easing up. “Everyone seems to think it’s a good place,” he said. “It should take off." Gipson said the Hard Hat just recently opened it’s dining room, obeying the state mandate for limited capacity. He and Healy both say word of mouth are huge right now.

Decatur’s development services manager, Tom Polk, confirms four more restaurants are in the planning stages in the city. That includes a new Chopotle in the Kroger shopping Center on Beltline Road Southwest. Another project in the works is a replacement for the old Ruby Tuesday on the Beltline. Polk says planning is “moving forward”, but it’s too soon to name what will be moving in.

An outparcel restaurant will be added to the Point Mallard Centre on Point Mallard Parkway at Indian Hills Road in Southeast Decatur while a current local restaurant owner plans to open a second restaurant. City Planner Erin Johnson said she could not release any new details about any of the three planned restaurants.

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