Winter weather brutal to bottom line

Posted February 26, 2015

— Area supermarkets and hardware stores benefited from the winter weather as frenzied customers stocked up on food, shovels and ice-melt before storms hit.

Otherwise, the last two weeks have been hard on Triangle businesses, which have endured three storms and official calls for people to stay home and not venture out on snowy and icy roads.

"We've had to close four times in the last two weeks," Nunzio Scordo, the owner of Driftwood Southern Kitchen in north Raleigh, said Thursday.

Wednesday night's storm ruined his lunch business Thursday, and all of his dinner reservations had canceled. So, Scordo considered how much staff to bring in as he waited by the phone, hopeful for customers to call.

"We are going to open, but it's a real crapshoot at this point," he said.

As businesses of all kinds dig out after the back-to-back-to-back storms of the past two weeks, restaurants are digging out of the red. Rent and salaries still have to be paid whether Scordo's doors are open or not.

"I can't make the last $10,000 or $15,000 that we lost in the last two weeks. I can't make that up," he said. "Once Friday and Saturday come, you can only fit so many people in the building. So, even if we were completely packed for two days straight, we still can't make up that."

North Carolina State University economist Mike Walden said it's easier for sectors such as manufacturing or retail to make up business after bad weather. Non-durable goods such as meals are a different story, he said.

"Someone who would go out to a restaurant, say, tonight decides not to go out tonight. They won't necessarily make that up later," Walden said. "So, restaurants in particular really get slammed."

North Carolina does about $1 billion in business on an average day, and restaurants and bars account for about 15 percent of that, or $150 million a day, he said.

"This is, I think, a good lesson in how tough it is especially to run a small business where you’re doing everything right and then, boom, you get slammed by the weather," he said.

Scordo said he's looking forward to spring.

"Hopefully, Mr. Winter's going to stay away from us, and we're going to just keep on trucking," he said.

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  • Sharon Davis Feb 27, 2015
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    you complain that business is weak, do you also complain when business is strong? should a waitress who is sometimes stiffed and is sometimes overtipped complain?