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Business owners get creative during COVID-19 crisis

NATCHEZ — The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Natchez restaurants in many ways but some of them are finding creative ways to keep their businesses afloat in these times.

Jarita Frazier-King, owner of Natchez Heritage Cooking School, said she is offering virtual online cooking classes to the public on Facebook.

“I thought this would be a good time for me to go on and launch my video blog show on Facebook Live,” Frazier-King said. “The virtual cooking classes help so they can make donations for our senior meals. The senior meals are for those who can’t get out and buy groceries.”

Frazier-King added she’s also offering some of the food to be catered by pan. The food that’s being offered includes lasagna, a pasta dish and gumbo.

Frazier King’s B-B-Que Dinners are still being offered and will be available on April 3. A plate includes ribs, chicken and sausage, green beans, baked beans, a roll and cake.

The Natchez Brewing Company is taking a different approach with their business.

Pat Miller, the brew master for Natchez Brew Company, said the Natchez Brewing Company is offering build-your-own pizza kits. Inside the kits are a flowered dough ball, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella and whatever type of meat the customer wants.

“It’s not an original to us, and I have seen several others on social media and that’s where we got the idea,” Miller said. “It seems very appropriate. In our current circumstances, people don’t want to go out, and they want something fun to do with the kids.”

On Wednesday, Miller said Natchez Brewing Company would release an instructional video on social media about how to stretch the dough.

While some businesses are doing virtual classes or kits, some businesses are offering to go and carry out options.

Brian Lees, co-owner of County Pie and Roux 61, said both restaurants are offering to-go and pick-up orders from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

“It’s definitely a challenge no doubt and I understand it,” Lees said. “We’re just like everyone else. We’re just trying to sort through it day-by-day. A lot of local businesses in Natchez are affected heavily, without tours and traffic in general.”

Fat Mama’s Tamales will serve their food through their drive thru, which is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The delivery is through Milk Man and to go cups of “Knock-You-Naked” margaritas are available at Fat Mama’s Tamales patio side door.

“We have had a lot of drive thru orders come through and support local businesses, during this pandemic,” said Sarah Bollyer, general manager of Fat Mama’s Tamales. “That’s what Natchez is all about. I think it’s a great thing for everybody to help out and go to their local favorite restaurant. I’m glad we have had the drive thru unlike some other businesses.”

For some restaurants that are still open, they have felt uneasy about their business but look on the bright side.

“It has almost crushed our business,” Miller said. “It has been very difficult. I’m a friend with a lot of other restaurant owners in town, and it’s really hard to imagine how we’re going to come out of this economically. It’s going to be a long, hard road for businesses in Natchez.”

Regina Charboneau, the owner of King’s Tavern, posted an update via social media on March 20 about King’s Tavern.

“I will give an update every week, but for now we have ceased all operations, even to-go orders until further notice,” Charboneau wrote.

John and Malan Parks announced via social media Sunday that they are closing their three Natchez restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is with heavy hearts and more than just a little anxiety that Malan and I are announcing the closure of Magnolia Grill, Pearl Street Pasta and 100 Main Spirits and Eatery,” John Parks wrote in the social media post Sunday. “Our business, like so many in Natchez, cannot survive without tourists coming to town and spending their money with us.”

John Parks, who co-owns the restaurants with his wife, Malan Parks, also went on to say he did not want to potentially expose customers or employees to the COVID-19 virus by continuing to operate the businesses.