Working professionals crowded around the bar at Natty Greene’s in the early afternoon as Doug Boxley, director of pub operations, poured beer, hustled out plates of food and cleared dishes.
“I’m cooking, too,” he announced, as a new cohort of diners gravitated to the bar. “I’ll be right back.”
Alternating between the bar and the kitchen roughly every 10 minutes, Boxley single-handedly operated the popular brew pub in downtown Greensboro, despite offers of assistance from customers, including one woman who said she had restaurant experience and a young couple who joked they would wash dishes in exchange for free shots.
“He’s putting on a herculean effort,” said Tom Taylor, who was waiting for his wife to finish a shift at Lincoln Financial Group.
Natty Greene’s was one of the few commercial establishments in downtown Greensboro where one could get a hot plate of food today. Ham’s and Deep Roots Market were also open for business.
David Pedigo, the general manager for Ham’s, said the downtown restaurant was partially staffed, and management would determine whether to stay open tomorrow.
“We’re going to see what happens,” he said. “We’ve got to put our employees’ safety top priority. But we want to make sure people who live in the condos and apartments downtown have some place to go.”
Elizabeth Judson-Rea, who moved to downtown Greensboro from Boston with her partner, said she was surprised to find pretty much everything closed as snow began to coat the city yesterday afternoon.
“I tried to go buy beer at Charlie’s convenient store at 3 p.m.,” she said. “The man behind the counter was trying to close the store, but I guess he felt sorry for me and let me in.”
Back at Natty Greene’s, newspaper reporters and lawyers took turns at the bar stools.
Tom Taylor and his wife had made an epic journey from their home near New Garden Road so she could get to work at Lincoln Financial Group. It took them about a half-hour to get out of their driveway and another hour to get out of their neighborhood. He said they had to “zig-zag” on main roads to complete the trek.
Taylor left his car in the parking garage at Lincoln Financial Group, and kept walking south on Elm Street until he found a place that was open. A small easel outside Natty Greene’s announced in chalk lettering: “If you are patient, we are open!”
Along the way, Taylor ran into Renwick Earl Davis, who was looking for some money to get something to eat.
“My friend here was kind enough to buy me a meal,” Davis said.
Davis slept in a shed behind an abandoned house on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive last night. There was no heat, but at least the walls broke the wind and kept out the moisture. Other nights, he sleeps on a mattress laid down in the eaves of an underpass, at the Greensboro Transit Authority’s hub at the Depot, or at his mother’s house. A caseworker is helping him obtain permanent housing.
“I was fine last night,” Davis said. “I had a positive attitude when I woke up this morning, and I accomplished some things today.”