Memphis soul food restaurant sticks to takeout orders as COVID cases continue to rise

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

Chef Tam’s underground café in the Edge District still does a lot of take out. But Tamra Patterson, owner of the popular soul food restaurant, said the decision to keep patrons out of the dining room was a personal one.

“As much as we love being surrounded by our guests, as much as we love having live music and laughter, we just had to step back and realize that 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 at the front of the restaurant and prepares take-out orders, she said.

“When you stop and ask if my 16 year old 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 be do I agree with that? Patterson said.

She then considered other families and decided now was not the time to be fully 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 inside, masked customers were waiting outside on Tuesday to collect their orders.

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

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

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