Huntsville favorite, Blue Plate Cafe, struggles with COVID-19

Business at Blue Plate Cafe took a hard hit from COVID-19

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A Rocket City fan favorite for good-home-southern cooking could be forced to close its doors soon.

When you walk into Blue Plate Cafe in Huntsville you may feel like you are at home, at least that’s how many residents in the area feel.

Many customers feel this is a place they can walk into for good food, and good friends. Blue Plate Cafe opened its doors over 17 years ago, and since that opening, the son of the original owner is now running it.

Co-owner of the cafe, Justin Sparks, said his grandma’s recipes turned into a staple in the Rocket City.

“We want people to feel like they are coming home, and that’s part of our slogan, welcome home," Sparks said.

However, due to financial struggles the restaurant had to close one of their locations indefinitely.

“The hard part was having to talk to our employees about it and saying you know we are not a viable business right now," he said.

The business went from two locations with 100 employees, down to one location with 35 employees.

“The government released the loans and that helped a lot of small businesses, but now those funds are either dwindled out or dwindling down," Sparks said.

He said the only reason the one restaurant location is still open now is because of his amazing customers.

Blue Plate Cafe’s location on Governor’s Drive is now adjusting like other small businesses in the area, and learning to be more flexible with whatever comes their way.

“Before COVID-19, probably 90 percent of our business was dine in," Sparks said. "Now its probably about 30 percent takeout and 70 percent dine in.”

It’s no secret that the way we do things is different now because of the pandemic. Huntsville-Madison County Chamber leaders say they see businesses and customers all over the the Tennessee Valley having to adjust.

“We’ve seen businesses that have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and say, you know if we are going to survive we have got to do business in a different way," said Pammie Jimmar, the Vice President of Small Business and Events for the Chamber.

Sparks said he hopes the state will look into allowing partitions to section tables off, so that way he can open up more of his tables.

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