Locally owned restaurants send letter to SCHD urging for changes to be made for their survival

WATCH: Local restaurant owners send letter to Shelby County Health Department

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A plea for help as dozens of Memphis restaurant owners sent an open letter to the health department urging them to make changes so they can survive this pandemic.

It seems like just about every week, restaurants must change the way they operate.

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“It has been a real challenge getting back open and operating,” said Wally Joe, Owner of Acre Restaurant. “The rules are constantly changing. We’re just trying to adapt to the rules.”

Joe’s restaurant has been open for nine years and he said they have taken a major financial hit because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our revenue is down,” Joe said. “Of course, when you can only seat half your restaurant.”

Joe is one of the dozens of independent Memphis restaurant owners who signed an open letter and sent it to the Shelby County Health Department.

The letter details several requests, such as clear science-based guidelines, consistent with CDC recommendations.

“We want everybody to wear a mask,” Joe said. “We believe it works. But everyone doesn’t want to.”

Restaurant owners also said they support occupancy restrictions but believe restaurants should be able to utilize their bar areas to serve meals while adhering to social distancing and alcohol restrictions.

“We’re a very small restaurant,” he said. “We don’t have as many tables and chairs as others might. We had to take out a lot of chairs and tables to satisfy the 50 percent pandemic.”

The Memphis Restaurant Association has been representing restaurants, but these owners don't believe the MRA expressed the challenges independent restaurant owners face.

“They’re trying to make it one size fits all in the industry and it just doesn’t work that way,” Joe said.

We reached out the health department for a comment.

In a statement, Direct Alisa Haushalter said, “I will be meeting with representatives from the group. I appreciate Mr. English reaching out and I look forward to our conversation.”