Memphis Soul Food restaurant sticks to take-out orders as COVID cases continue to rise

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After Governor Bill Lee extended his emergency COVID order in Tennessee on Monday, a restaurant in Memphis decided to push safety a step further and return to Phase 1.

Chef Tam’s underground cafe in the Edge District still does a lot of takeout orders. But Tamra Patterson, owner of the famed soul food restaurant, said the decision to keep customers out of the dining room was a personal one.

“As much as we love being with our guests, we love having live music and laughter, we just had to take a step back and realize those numbers aren’t going down. We haven’t flattened the curve like they say,” Patterson said.

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Her 16-year-old son works in the front of the restaurant doing take-out orders, she said.

“When you pull up and wonder if my 16 year old son got sick with COVID and had horrible symptoms and I couldn’t be in the hospital with him because they don’t allow guests , would it suit me?” said Patterson.

She then considered other families and decided that now was not the time to be completely open.

Patterson said 10 employees she was able to bring back after being initially laid off at the start of the pandemic will still be able to work.

Instead of enjoying their meal indoors, masked customers waited outside on Tuesday to pick up their orders.

Oree Hunt was one of them. He agrees not to enter.

“We can’t take any risks. We’ve never experienced anything of this magnitude,” Hunt said.

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