Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series examining businesses affected by the ongoing deployments to Iraq.
Because of a lack of military patrons, many in the restaurant industry are suffering financially as some in the area are losing tens of thousands of dollars each week.
Thus far, the popular franchise restaurants near Fort Stewart are reporting some of the largest losses.
“Since the latest deployment, our restaurant can best be described as vacant during lunch and dinner time, which should be our busiest times here. The employees and business owner alike have easily lost thousands of dollars here at (Ruby Tuesday’s). We just hope the business will pick up, or we’ll all be looking for new jobs,” a server at Ruby Tuesday’s said, who was speaking under anonymity since corporate policy bars them from speaking about sales information.
The Taco Bell on Gen. Screven in Hinesville has also been battered since the fast food restaurant lost a reported $10,000 this past week alone, Manager Travis Davis said.
“I’ve been out here since February of last year, and this drop in business is the absolute worst I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve had to cut back hours on my employees, and I have to watch the labor percentages very closely to save as much money as I can.”
“We know we can bounce back on these losses, but it may be a long wait before the business returns,” he added.
Poole’s Deli on Main Street in Hinesville has had to cut some of its employees’ hours, but the restaurant has been much worse off in the past, said owner Billy Poole.
“We have been in business for 16 years, and if you are around long enough it becomes a little easier to figure out how to make your restaurant work. We began a catering service, and that has helped carry us through times like these,” he said.
However, some of the restaurants farther away from Fort Stewart are not being affected as much.
Employees of the Huddle House, Ida Mae & Joe’s and JT BBQ in Midway said their business has remained relatively static.
“During deployments, we don’t see much of a change in business,” said Victoria Jones of JT BBQ. “We serve to more of the local crowd in Midway and in Liberty County, so we maintain the same number of customers.”