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How Forsyth County restaurants are getting creative to keep serving customers
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Marie's Italian Deli owner Karen Smith walks food out to a customer on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Smith and other restaurant owners have been searching for creative ways to keep business going as people stay home amid the spread of the novel coronavirus. - photo by Ben Hendren

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Employees at Los Rios Mexican Restaurant in Cumming are working harder than ever to serve customers and keep the business going while health authorities urge residents to avoid crowds during the novel coronavirus crisis.

Catering Manager Mayra Granados said that the family owned restaurant is now offering free deliveries of $25 or more to customers in the area and curbside pickup for customers who want to limit face-to-face contact.

They are still trying to come up with creative alternative ways to best serve the community and stay in business so that they can keep supporting the employees and families that depend on them.

Los Rios’ dining room is still open to anyone willing to come out to the restaurant, and Granados said that the staff has made sure prioritize the health of guests coming in and out, making sure to sanitize and wipe down all menus, chairs and booths before and after use. The extra precautions, however, have not kept the restaurant’s dine-in sales from shrinking rapidly, and delivery sales simply may not be enough.

Los Rios is one of many restaurants in Forsyth County rushing to make changes as they struggle to keep their doors open. Gigorio’s and Marie’s Italian Deli both recently made the decision to temporarily close their dining rooms, and other local eateries such as Jim N Nick’s Bar-B-Q have started to offer similar curbside pickup services to customers. Branchwater in Cumming even hired a new team member this week to assist in making deliveries.

Restaurants all throughout metro Atlanta have been forced to close or get creative when serving customers as customer traffic all over has dropped significantly. According to data collected by OpenTable, as of Monday, Atlanta restaurants saw a 78% drop in traffic when compared to the same day last year.

Other states across the U.S. such as Florida and Utah have ordered for the temporary closure of restaurants and bars, but Gov. Brian Kemp told radio station Q99.7 Wednesday that he plans to hold off on any mandatory closures, explaining that the current situation does not warrant such an order.

In the wake of the national emergency, the Georgia Restaurant Association has provided restaurant workers with a list of online resources to find information and assistance at garestaurants.org.

In the meantime, Granados and the rest of the staff at Los Rios is calling on the community to help out in any way that they can and encouraging anyone placing orders for food to try to order locally.

“We’re a local business, so we’re very grateful to all of those customers that are keeping us in mind when they’re out spending money or deciding which meal to get,” Granados said. “We appreciate that.”