‘It has to be for everybody’: Lumberton restaurant owner praises end of dine-in service


LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – North Carolina’s governor declared Tuesday that all restaurants in the state can only serve takeout or delivery orders.

Gov. Roy Cooper says as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, restaurants cannot allow customers to dine in their businesses. Even though it closed at 2 p.m., the phone was ringing for orders at Bravo Pleasant Pizza off Fayetteville Road in the evening.

Yanni Tsalamandris has owned the restaurant since 1982 and says this is the first time he’s closing for a significant period of time.

“I’ll stay closed (for) the time that the disease is going to be out,” he said. “I don’t care. Two weeks, three weeks, one month, all of my employees, I want (them) to come back to work.”

Gov. Cooper announced an executive order preventing restaurants and bars from having dine-in service during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As North Carolinians, it’s time for us to be at our best, to not lose sight of our shared values,” he said.

The governor’s order also expands unemployment insurance to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.

“These are incredibly hard decisions with real consequences,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, who’s the secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services. “Our goal is to slow the spread of the infection so fewer people get sick at the same time.”

While restaurants can still give takeout or delivery orders, Tsalamandris says he’s not risking it. He says he’s seen how devastating COVID-19 has been across Europe, especially near where he grew up in Greece.

That’s why he says he wants his employees and customers to stay healthy by self-isolating.

“It has to be for everybody,” said Tsalamandris. “That disease is not (a) joke.”

Tsalamandris says he plans to cook some meals for people while bravo pleasant is closed, as well as give away some homemade bread and tomatoes.

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