Local businesses thinking creatively about services

Published 10:57 pm Monday, March 16, 2020

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NATCHEZ — From local restaurants to food and grocery delivery, area business owners are rethinking the services they offer in the age of COVID-19.

Starting Tuesday local chef Regina Charboneau is offering soup by the quart and frozen chicken and beef bourguignon pot-pies to be picked up curbside at her restaurant Regina’s Kitchen on Main Street.

Charboneau said the new food offerings are in addition to what is already being served at Regina’s Kitchen and King’s Tavern on Jefferson Street.

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“We are not closing. We are cooking up here,” Charboneau said. “We want to think creatively to keep the doors open, keep my staff employed. We can get through this,” Charboneau said.

While she still welcomes customers, Charboneau said she also recognizes there are those who may not want to get out.

“We want to be very proactive to keep everybody healthy,” Charboneau said. “We are specializing in frozen items that you can cook at home.”

In addition to the frozen items, Regina said both of her restaurants will also offer a to-go menu that can also be picked up curbside at both restaurants.

For more information, visit Charboneau’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chefreginanatchez.

To place an order call 769-355-2165.

John Parks co-owner of Pearl Street Pasta, 100 Main Street and Magnolia Grill, said business is down at all three restaurants a bit more than he had anticipated for the first week of Spring Pilgrimage.

“It’s a little bit slower than we expected for the first part of Pilgrimage but overall still pretty good,” Parks said of business, adding he is looking at options to boost his restaurants’ business during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have started looking into delivery services and of course we will do, if guests want, a curbside service,” Parks said. “We’ve always been open to that if they just ask us for it we are happy to do it.”

Parks said he has not yet adjusted any hours or schedules at his restaurants.

“If business dictates that we would but as of right now we are open with business as usual, following Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines as far as safety,” Parks said. “We are keeping our employees safe as well as our guests. We installed additional hand sanitizer stations that are easily accessible for the guests at all the places. We have removed condiments from the tabletops to limit exposure. We are doing more sanitation than is required by law of all hard surfaces.”

Parks said he understands the need for some people to stay out of crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he believes that is more of a concern in more heavily populated areas.

“We want to see smiling faces in the seats,” Parks said.

For those who do not want to travel to the restaurant or grocery store, Downtown Karla Brown is offering delivery services in addition to her taxi and tour service.

As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, Brown said her tour service has had several cancellations from groups that are no longer coming to the Miss-Lou.

In an effort to cope with the loss of business, Brown is offering a variety of delivery services, including food delivery, grocery pick-up and taxi services.

Monday was the first day for Brown to offer the food delivery service.

“I guess Monday is a good day to start,” Brown said.

For a flat $10 fee in addition of the cost of the food, Brown said she will deliver meals from a local restaurant. Brown said she would also travel to the local grocery store to pick up groceries that are paid for in advance.

Brown can be contacted at 907-540-0001.

On Franklin Street, Southern Bistro has designated a parking space in front of Natchez Manor to deliver meals curbside.

“We encourage call-in, to-go orders and have a designated parking space immediately in front of the building to accommodate,” Emily McNeil said. “Servers will come to your vehicle to take payment with gloves on. Your food will be delivered directly to the car.”

For more information go to natchezmanor.com. Orders can be placed at 601-442-4441.

Guy Bass, co-owner of Cotton Alley Café, said the restaurant on Main Street will also be happy to serve customers curbside.

“We have always had a to-go business and will serve customers, however they want,” Bass said.

In recent days, Bass said he has had several cancellations from European groups that are no longer able to travel abroad because of the outbreak. Bass said he is thankful that several smaller groups that are regionally based still plan to keep their reservations.

“We still have some smaller groups, from as far away as Florida, who have been planning trips to Natchez for more than three years,” Bass said. “They say they are coming regardless.”

Natchez Democrat Editor Scott Hawkins contributed to this report.