If you wanted to eat out or go shopping on Monday, whether your destination of choice was open was a hit-or-miss affair in the wake of the weekend’s winter storm.
Steven Toomey and Janelle Reaves got a little frustrated when they drove to four restaurants along the periphery of downtown Raleigh Monday morning and found each of them closed.
But Toomey had a yen for biscuits and gravy and his girlfriend, Reaves, was keen for eggs Benedict. So the two Raleigh residents, both 30, headed to Cameron Village and ended up satisfying their cravings at The Flying Biscuit Cafe.
“We just really wanted breakfast food,” said Reaves, a makeup artist.
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At Cameron Village, the eateries generally were open Monday at lunch time, the notable exception being Goodberry’s frozen custard. But the stores that cater to shoppers were a mixed bag – some open and some closed.
Local malls were open Monday – which meant that most of the stores also were open, as required by their leases.
Still, there were few shoppers – less than a normal Monday – at Crabtree Valley Mall, said spokesman Brian Asbill.
Josh Harmon, manager at Triangle Town Center Mall, said for some people, the shopping mall is a refuge against heat waves, power outages and other forms of punishing weather.
“One of the benefits of a place like ours is it’s a safe place that people can come in where we have places to eat and restrooms,” he said.
Back at Cameron Village, Dan Palatucci, operating partner at Flying Biscuit, said business Monday morning was “a little bit slower than normal. I thought we’d be a little bit busier with school being closed and people going stir crazy.”
But he added that he thought people were doing the safe thing by staying at home.
“We do the same thing with staff,” he said. “If you’re not comfortable driving, stay at home.”
In addition to the Cameron Bar & Grill being open on Monday, it also welcomed customers on Saturday and Sunday, although it closed early – 5 p.m. – on both days.
“This is a very walkable area, and we want to maintain our accessibility as a local business,” said Charlie Jones, the restaurant’s manager. “We had a lot of people in here Saturday or Sunday who said, ‘We knew you would be open so we wanted to come in and show some love.’ ”
About 50 percent the normal contingent of staff worked on Saturday, while about 75 percent reported to the restaurant on Sunday – which is just fine with Jones.
“If you can make it in, great, and if not, we’ll see you when you thaw out,” he said.
Light Years, a locally owned jewelry and gifts retailer, has three stores – in Cameron Village, Chapel Hill and The Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham.
On Monday the Cameron Village and Southpoint stores were open, but the Chapel Hill shop was closed, said Chelsea Jones, a manager at the Cameron Village store.
“We were closed over the weekend,” she said. “We decided to open because we figured some people were going stir crazy and wanted to get out.” Jones said she and store employee Rachel Carledge both live within a 10-minute drive of the store.
Tin Roof Teas, a purveyor of teas and accessories, also was open on Monday.
“People need tea,” said assistant manager Marceline Nguyen. “They probably ran out doing the storm. And, being a small business, you really can’t afford to be closed.”
Tin Roof was open for two hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday. On Monday, it opened at the normal time but the plan was for it to stay open until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. rather than the usual 7 p.m.
“We’re gradually returning to normal,” Nguyen said.
Some businesses that cater to consumers actually shift into high gear when a winter storm strikes. That’s certainly the case with Raleigh-based East Coast Towing, which has been dispatching its 23 workers and tow trucks round-the-clock to rescue stranded cars, trucks and fleet vehicles operated by the likes of the U.S. Postal Service and the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Between Friday and Monday afternoon, the company had fielded 338 calls, about one-third more than usual.
Operations manager Fred Steider said most of the calls involved cars driving onto a patch of ice, skating off the glazed road and landing in a ditch.
Oftentimes the car is not damaged and the driver is able to continue the trip – minus the towing fee of $85 to $125.