Local business owner frustrated by possibility of closures

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shawn Danko said the possibility of a new safer at home order couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“To say hey you don’t have a job before Christmas is absolutely gut-wrenching,” Danko said. “It was bad enough the first time in March.”

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Danko, who owns Kooky Canuck, said he was a part of a Zoom meeting with Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and the Shelby County Health Department.

Danko said the Memphis Restaurant Association’s message is that local businesses will continue to do their part in keeping the public safe.

“The sense was that all options are on the table at this point,” Danko said. “That they are prepared to do what they need to do to keep the community safe.”

Danko believed the impact of another possible shut down is huge. He said some restaurants, such as his, may shut down all together, because going to just takeout and delivery is not profitable.

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He said his restaurant has suffered a loss of 60 percent at the downtown location and 40 percent at the Cordova location.

Danko, who employs 50 people, said the lack of payroll protections adds another layer of challenges.

According to the National Restaurants Association, almost one in six restaurants have closed permanently or long-term.

Danko believed Memphis isn’t immune to this.

“The next three months will be difficult,” he said. “We could see anywhere between 10 to 20 percent of restaurants in the city closed.”

Danko felt frustrated because he isn’t able to properly budget for 2021; he doesn’t know where the light at the end of the tunnel is.

“It’s nerve-wracking,” he said. “It’s complicated. It’s extremely frustrating from an operations standpoint. Not knowing, not being able to plan what the strategy is to get us out of this.”

Danko said local restaurant owners feel they’re being singled out and hopes Monday, the health department sees that they want to cooperate while staying open for business.

“You’re seeing hundreds and hundreds of people pile into big box stores on a daily basis and that supposedly is safe,” he said. “It doesn’t equate to the average restaurant owner. It does not equate at all.”