Downtown Raleigh business owners hope reopening museums will bolster business

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Steve Hunt was happy to hear nearby museums would reopen soon. He owns a restaurant, The Big Easy, in downtown Raleigh.

“Bringing more people downtown will be a great thing for us,” he said. “If you can tell, right now it’s an afternoon where there’s a lot of hustle and bustle, and it’s been pretty quiet.”

It’s quiet mainly because of COVID-19, but also because of violence that has accompanied some protests in recent months. Hunt has managed to stay in business, but some of his neighbors haven’t.

Plywood covers both open and closed businesses. It’s become an unfortunate routine.

“That’s been a real heartbreaking thing to see, you know? A lot of people, including myself, re-boarded up this past weekend and made it another empty downtown besides of the protesting that was going on. It’s a real eerie feeling. It has been this last couple of months,” Hunt said.

There is renewed hope that the empty tables will soon be filled again.

“This is definitely new to my generation and some generation,s too,” said 11-year-old Ella Graber as she and her mom, Erin, were making a few purchases at a local coffee stand.

“We’re really excited to have downtown reopening safely. And with the museums opening, we’re excited it will bring back business to the local businesses that have been suffering,” Erin added.

The open area between the North Carolina Museum of Science and the North Carolina Museum of History has been deserted for months. By the end of the week, there is anticipation that it will look a lot different. Even at half capacity, it could be a saving grace for folks like Steve Hunt.

“Fifty percent is a lot better than zero. I know they’ve been itching to get their doors back open,” Hunt said.

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