There’s nothing like a forecast of snow and ice to get the attention of small-business owners.
Wintry weather has the potential to force closures and abbreviated hours that can impact the bottom line.
Kevin Jennings, co-owner of Urban Food Group, which includes Raleigh restaurants Coquette, Vivace and Chow, had to make decisions about operations during last week’s snow and ice.
Jennings, who said he normally waits until the last minute to adjust hours or close restaurants, lets travel conditions be his guide.
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“We’ll normally wait to close until the roads are actually being impacted,” Jennings said. “And then at that point we’re waiting to see if it’s going to be a snow that will go away when it’s warm enough, or in the case of last week, where it snows and then there’s ice and it’s lingering for days.”
Jennings tells employees they can opt out of coming to work if they believe conditions are dangerous.
“If you feel comfortable getting to work, then come to work and we’ll have work for you,” Jennings said.
Jennings says he would be quicker to close Coquette and Vivace at North Hills because the upscale dining experience at those two locations isn’t a good fit on a snow day.
“People are more in galoshes and snow attire and the kids are home when school is closed, so they are more likely to go to a casual restaurant,” he said. “Chow in North Raleigh would be the last in our succession to close because they are more neighborhood-driven. ... Generally people can walk out of the neighborhood and come up to the restaurant.”
When the decision is made to alter hours, Jennings says they get the word out quickly to customers and to neighboring businesses.
“We have an email blast that goes out to subscribers,” Jennings said. “The office does a great job with Facebook postings and tweeting out, and Instagram is for us taking pictures of the restaurant with snow on the ground and saying we’re still here. We also do the old school sign on the door.”
The decision to close is never an easy one.
“We make every effort to be open,” Jennings said. “We’re not going to be one of the first people to close.”
Carla Turchetti is a small-business writer and journalist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.