AMORY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Restaurants are continuing to operate differently during the coronavirus pandemic. One locally-owned burger restaurant shared how it is operating differently during the pandemic.
Bill’s Hamburgers in Amory is a community favorite, according to general manager James Wilkerson.
“Bill’s Hamburgers, you come here for the atmosphere, you come for a good, greasy hamburger, a glass-bottle coke sitting on a barstool and spinning around,” Wilkerson said.
James Wilkerson has been the general manager of Bill’s Hamburgers for almost 21 years. Since the coronavirus hit, he’s had to make a lot of changes in operating the restaurant.
“Right now, we’re just doing the curbside, we’re not letting any customers into the building to cut down on the chance of anything being contaminated,” Wilkerson said.
He said employees dress the burgers now, and condiments are pre-packaged.
“We’re Germ-Xing and washing our hands and wearing our masks, and sanitizing surfaces, so, I think we’re taking about every step we possibly could for the safety of our customers and our employees and their families.”
Brittany Wilkerson is the assistant manager of Bill’s Hamburgers and James Wilkerson’s wife. She said the restaurant closed for about 5 weeks when the pandemic first hit back in March. She said business took a big blow when the dining rooms closed and customers couldn’t sit at the bar.
“That’s part of the Bill’s experience. Not being able to have the burger at the bar top is pretty much the lack of the whole experience, I guess,” she said.
She said all employees have to wear masks, and no one except employees are allowed to come inside. For now, customers have to get orders to go, or they can eat at the tables right outside.
“I feel like we’re hanging in there, we’re trying to stay afloat. I mean we’ve been here since 1929, so we have to, you know?”
Madison Hood is an employee at Bill’s. She said the coronavirus has truly impacted the Bill’s Hamburgers' experience.
“We had a lot more people come in. It’s a big change and it has hurt us as people, we can’t communicate with our customers like we used to. They have to sit out in the hot sun. Barely people come in the rain.”
Hood said people who visit have mixed feelings about face masks.
“Some of them are scared, some of them don’t care. They will protect themselves, but they still want good food.”
“A big part of this place is just the history of it,” James Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said their burgers historically come with or without mustard and onions.
“We had a fellow named Junior who worked here for three of four different owners, that’s the guy on the mural outside. He’s really a local legend, an icon here in town, especially in Bill’s Hamburgers. His famous thing was when you walked in, he [would say] 'With or without?' and that's the way you got your burger.”
He described the restaurant as a signature eatery.
“If you like a good, classic, Southern, greasy hamburger, we’re the place for you. If not, there’s a restaurant right down the street that has a salad bar.”