STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) -- As restaurants continue to find ways to keep their businesses going during the coronavirus pandemic, one community favorite in Starkville shared some of the changes its had to make during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Little Dooey in Starkville never closed during the coronavirus pandemic, but instead found ways to keep operating.
"We were just limited to doing curbside at the time,” owner Bart Wood said, referring to when the pandemic first started back in March.
He said people were scared at the time, and his business took a nosedive. He said his restaurant has been changing in stages over the past three months, and he said it has made a lot of changes for public safety.
In April, the restaurant offered curbside-pickup only. In May and June, business began to pick back up, and dine-in options became available up to fifty percent restaurant capacity.
Following last week’s mandate for Starkville businesses, everyone is required to wear a face mask inside. This includes employees.
Wood said customers can take their masks off to eat, but they must put them back on before getting up.
Wood said employees sanitize chairs, tables, and any touched surfaces regularly. Hand sanitizing stations are also positioned around the restaurant.
“Anything that may have human contact, we try to keep that clean,” Wood said.
Stephen Smith is a first-time customer from Georgia who’s visiting the area. He said he's happy with the restaurant’s procedures.
"I feel completely safe coming here. I think the restaurant in general, particularly this one, has done a really good job of making the patrons feel safe.”
Long-time customer Debra Mason is from Columbus. She said she has been eating at the Little Dooey for around thirty years.
“They’ve always been nice to us, always welcoming,” Mason said.
She said she always takes safety precautions.
”I hear it’s mandatory that you do wear the mask all the time now, but I was doing it all the time anyway,” Mason said.
She said this is the first time she and her husband have eaten at the restaurant since the pandemic began.
“I don’t have fear. I’m not saying it’s not real or anything, I believe it is real, but I don’t have any fear about getting out,” Mason said.
Wood said he’s extremely grateful for his customers, both regular and visiting. He said they are the reason The Little Dooey has been able to keep going.