In one day, Raleigh’s nightlife vanished, taking with it hundreds of jobs throughout the city.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, Governor Cooper issued an executive order on Tuesday that all restaurants and bars had to close to dine-in customers; only takeout and delivery order would be allowed.

For the owners of Trophy Brewing, that meant laying off 75 tipped servers to stay afloat. Takeout only accounts for 20 percent of Trophy’s revenue, says co-owner David Meeker. (Meeker’s uncle, Richard Meeker, owns the INDY.) There was “no way to connect the dots,” he says.

“One hundred percent, our plan is to rehire everyone,” Meeker says. “The only comfort is everyone is in the same boat. It’s a bad situation.”

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Raleigh’s economic development manager, Veronica Creech, said the business community has been devastated by the forced closures. 

“We have had full businesses, as of yesterday, lay off whole staffs,” Creech said. “Particularly servers, some of our most vulnerable employees, full staffs have been laid off.”

Timothy Lemuel, who owns Ruby Deluxe, Night Rider, and Wicked Witch, has turned to crowdfunding to pay his rent as well as 23 employees who had their hours eliminated. So far, through Venmo and GoFundMe, Lemuel has raised about $10,000—an impressive sum, but April’s rent for the three clubs is about $15,000. 

“I’ve been begging and pleading with the landlords to please offer some kind of abatement or discounted rent,” Lemuel says. “A lot of it rests on the landlords right now. If rent is not on hold, then we don’t even know how we’d begin to survive.”

In an attempt to soften the blow, Cooper’s executive order also expanded access to unemployment benefits. Additionally, the Frankie Lemmon Foundation has started a relief fund for the Triangle’s restaurant workers. You can contribute to it here. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at 

DEAR READERS, WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER. Support independent local journalism by joining the INDY Press Club today. Your contributions will keep our fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle, coronavirus be damned.