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Local businesses taking one step at a time

WILLCOX- Take-out and curbside pickup remain an option as business owners consider cutting employee hours due to covid-19.

Big Tex BBQ restaurant owner Jeff Willey has had a tumultuous few years, to say the least. His building burned down in May of 2018. He reopened in 2019 and now in 2020 he is having to go to with curbside-only service and cutting employee hours.

“Every day I’ve been cutting out at least one employee for about five hours a day,” Willey said. “We’re taking turns who gets cut out and rotated out so that everyone can get time in still.”

His sales have dropped “significantly” and he just can’t pay his staff, he said.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. We have to be able to help contain (the coronavirus) and take care of it whatever way we can,” Willey said. “We’re going above and beyond any kind of sanitation. We’re going way above and beyond any of that.”

Knowing the coronavirus would eventually spread to Cochise County, Big Tex BBQ set up a food truck near the TA Truck Stop so hungry truckers could stop and grab some food, Willey said.

“It’s not going to be the virus that shuts us down, it’s going to be the loss of business,” said Willey.

Double S Steakhouse owner Sheridan Givens is managing the stress of the virus ordeal by “plugging away.”

Givens feels her situation as a business owner is akin to the movie Forrest Gump, when his boat is in the hurricane and he is scared, but he manages to keep his boat afloat through perseverance.

On Friday Givens said she had not cut any hours yet. She’s started a $2 delivery system for those who live within the city limits. The drive-through to her business is still open and they are using curbside pickup.

“I am anticipating that we are going to have to cut hours, but we’re not letting people go,” said Givens. “On the bright side we have planted flowers and it’s looking beautiful. I’m really optimistic.”

On Thursday the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture met through a Venmo conference and the business owners present were asked how they were handling the COVID-19 situation.

Brena Haas, general manager at Holiday Inn Express said she’s had to shut down her buffet because of Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to close all restaurants in counties with COVID-19 cases. She has also noticed a drop in the number of people traveling for business.

Her staff has upped its cleanliness campaign with frequent sanitization of all flat surfaces as well as door handles.

Cheryl Moss, co-owner of the Willcox Maid Rite Feeds store, said business remains the same for her. Animals will always be hungry, so she is not worried about a loss of revenue, she said.