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As restaurants lose business, one pushes forward with opening

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COBDEN (WSIL) -- At a time when many restaurants are seeing a loss in customers due to concerns over COVID-19, one local is pushing forward with plans to open his food stand.

Currently, restaurants are not allowed to have dine-in customers and must only serve meals through delivery, to-go or curbside. This has put a financial burden on many small businesses.

But, that's not stopping Don Barden from opening Old Route 51 South BBQ and selling pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket, ribs and sides like coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad.

He'll have variety of BBQ sauces available on a regular basis including St. Louis, Carolina and Kansas City and will offer peach BBQ on special occasions.

"I love to cook; I love good food and I know people like good food," Barden explains. "I just thought since I enjoy it so much that I would share that with other people."

With Pritzker's stay-at-home orders in place and only essential businesses allowed to operate, it was a difficult decision for Barden to open.

"I was really hesitant about opening during this time but I figured the ball was in motion and I had everything ready to go before the virus," he says.

Barden believes being open gives people in the area who work are still working like first responders a meal option.

He taking precautions for the health and safety of customers, employees and himself. Those include having one employee designated to only taking payments from customers and not handing the food, as well as, having food handlers wear gloves.

Barden says there's also plenty of space outside to practice social distancing,

"There's a big parking lot so don't crowd each other," he explains. "Give each other space, you're not going to miss your order when we call it."

At this time, Barden has no idea what to expect for the opening but he's hopes for the best.

"If we get five people, we get five people. If we get 200 people, I might freak out a little bit," he jokes.

Old Route 51 South will hold its opening on Friday, March 27th at 11 a.m. until it's sold out.

It's regular hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as, Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, click here.

Brooke Schlyer

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