Roppongi Ramen Bar opened just outside of Matthews town limits in October 2019 with the concept of elevating inexpensive noodles into restaurant-quality dishes.
But the concept was not enough to overcome the public’s fears of contracting the coronavirus.
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One day after Mecklenburg County reported its first case of COVID-19, management posted a message on its Facebook page announcing Roppongie Ramen Bar’s temporarily closing March 14.
Other restaurants and bars have been forced to close or adjust operations since then, especially after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered bars and restaurants to shutdown dine-in operations March 17. Restaurants and bars may continue offering take-out and delivery.
“This will be a hardship not only for the restaurants and their owners, many of which have voluntarily closed, but also on their customers who find comfort at their chairs and tables,” Cooper said during a media briefing “It will also be a hardship for the employees who depend on them for their jobs.”
Cooper also announced that he was making it easier for workers who lose their jobs because of COVID-19 to apply for unemployment benefits. People no longer have to wait a week to apply for benefits. They also don’t have to look for another job during this time as the hope is companies will hire them back after the pandemic subsides.
The coronavirus arrived in Mecklenburg County as many restaurants and bars were preparing for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Events like the sixth annual Shamrock Crawl in downtown Matthews and the 24th annual Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade were postponed or canceled, but several restaurants and bars, such as Jekyll & Hyde Taphouse and Grill and Grace O’Malley’s Irish Public House in Matthews, continued with holiday festivities.
The Mason Jar Group, which operates restaurants such as Grace O’Malley’s, announced March 13 that it was upgrading cleaning solutions and increasing the frequency of staff handwashing and disinfecting surfaces.
Three days later, the company temporarily suspended operations.
“This decision was not made lightly, as our hearts are breaking for our 250 employees, as well as for our industry as a whole, who does not have the opportunity to work from home,” the Mason Jar Group posted on its restaurants’ Facebook pages. “We do, however, believe in doing our part to help encourage social distancing in the hopes of mitigating the spread of this virus.”
CharBar No. 7 temporarily shut down operations March 17 at its Matthews and Mint Hill locations.
Several other popular restaurants are trying to ride out the downturn as long as they can.
Yasser Sadek, owner of Kabab-Je Rotisserie & Grille, told Facebook supporters prior to Gov. Cooper’s order that the restaurant was following social distancing guidelines by moving tables farther apart.
“We have put more emphasis and manpower behind our takeout order team in order to provide ample service and opportunity for those of you who prefer to dine at home,” Sadek wrote.
Initially, Sante offered discounts of 20% to customers for using curbside pick-up, 50% off bottles of wine and $10 off $100 gift certificates. After Cooper’s order, the French restaurant encouraged patrons to call ahead and place orders to pick up from a daily limited menu between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Popular restaurants in Mint Hill, like Dunwellz Custom Kitchen and Pour House and The Hill Bar and Grill, are staying open by offering take-out options.
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