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Cornelius News

Temporary closings for public safety

John Bisson, inset, partner at Galway Hooker

March 16. By Dave Yochum. The majority owner of the Galway Hooker has stepped up to the plate around the coronavirus crisis. John Bisson said articles on the Cornelius Today website over the weekend were a “wake-up call” for people in the restaurant industry as well as for patrons and ordinary citizens.

Galway Hooker’s popular St. Patrick’s Day street festival was cancelled on Saturday, but the party went on with hundreds of revelers dressed in green at the Kenton Place pub, thanks, in part, to a welcome sign and an outdoor bar perched on the corner of Kenton Boulevard.

The big welcome sign is down.

“I have been in daily contact with Chris [Boukedes] with my recommendations and we both want to be proactive in this environment…our priority is the general health of the community as well as our employees. I built the Galway Hooker and opened in 2002. I’m still the majority owner and will focus with Chris on the right thing to do,” Bisson, the majority owner, said in an email to Cornelius Today.

NEW: Mayor Woody Washam called on restaurants to take a time out for a couple of days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


“These are serious times. I was informed today that the Galway Hooker would be closing today through Thursday to avoid a huge potential St Patrick’s Day influx of patrons. I applaud Chris and John for this significant proactive move. I challenge other local establishments to do the same thing. These are NOT normal times,” Washam said.

For restaurant owners with an Irish theme it would likely be impossible to control or limit patrons tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day.

There are three new cases for a total of seven in Mecklenburg County.

Two days after sizable St. Pat crowds at pubs like the Galway Hooker, Harp & Crown and other establishments, Mecklenburg County has cracked down on gatherings, doubling down on what Gov. Cooper has decreed.

Mecklenburg County is limiting gatherings to 50 vs. 100 on a statewide level as ordered by Cooper. Executive Order No. 117, also closes K-12 public schools to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, the governor has requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration grant a disaster declaration for business owners in North Carolina facing economic losses due to the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19.

Wes Choplin, owner of Choplin’s on One Norman, said business is down 50 percent to 60 percent. He has ramped up dinner delivery direct to homes, as well as greater “social distance” between diners inside. There will be a table or booth in  between patrons who dine inside, creating six feet of space, he said. Likewise, Choplin’s staff is wrapping silverware in linens and removing everything from tables except a candle and the silverware roll. Bathrooms are sanitized every 25 minutes.

Pro-tip: Servers, who alternate turns delivering food to customers at home, rely on tips for their income.


Coronavirus is going to go where it wants to go. How draconian measures are is up to government—and citizens. Publix has begun rationing peanut butter. The egg case at Publix was a shell of its former shelf: There were none out at 11 am today.

Likewise, fresh vegetables seemed to be picked over at Harris Teeter on Old Jetton.

Oddly, the breakfast bar was open as per usual.

Starbucks on West Catawba will close off the table and gathering area tomorrow, but the counter and drive-up window will be open. Outdoor tables are being put away as well.

There was a run on clear spirits at the ABC Store in Cornelius. One shopper grinned and said he wasn’t spending the next two or three weeks at home without vodka.

In Hoboken, NJ, the mayor has banned all restaurants from having dine-in customers and closed bars without food all together.

He has also imposed a 10 pm curfew for residents. Hours later, the state of New Jersey followed suit.

Unpopular decisions made today will determine what happens in several weeks—whether the US goes la dolce vita like Italy or buckles down more like South Korea where the spread of the illness has slowed.

Business-wise, it hurts. Employees at one boat repair business on West Catawba said they were laid off today because business sank almost overnight.


Starbucks expects to lose up to $430 million in revenue due to the coronavirus. But, importantly, almost all of its stores in China have reopened as conditions begin to improve there suggesting this is not a six-month “thing.”

At Aquesta, CEO Jim Engel said the Cornelius-based bank is still operating as usual “but looking at implementing some targeted help for our loyal customers most impacted by the CV19.”

Much is happening locally.

++PARC Dept. athletic, recreation and art programs are canceled until April 5 or delayed until after April 5. These special events are canceled: A Morning With the Easter Bunny at the Cornelius Arts Center on April 3 is canceled and Hop Into Spring at Robbins Park on April 4 is canceled.

++The Lake Norman Chamber Women’s Conference set for April 2 at The Peninsula Club has been postponed to sometime in mid-May.

++The Police Dept.’s Community Shred Event that was scheduled for March 21 has been cancelled.

++The Town Board’s budget retreat at the Graylyn Resort March 25 in Winston Salem will be moved to another location.

++Lake Norman Humane is suspending facility tours and programs like volunteer training for the next several weeks. Only approved adopters will be allowed in the animal area. The lobby,  2106 Charlotte Hwy. in Mooresville, will remain open  for donations, supplies and to answer questions. Or call 704-663-3330.

++Effective immediately the Cornelius Police Department is temporarily suspending the service of taking pre-employment and other non-criminal fingerprints​.

++North Meck High is the ​Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools “grab and go” ​location for free ​meals students, beginning tomorrow.

++First Baptist Church of Cornelius and the Neighborhood CARE Center will begin distributing lunches tomorrow (Tuesday) to designated drop-off points throughout Old Town Cornelius. If you are in need of a bag lunch or would like to volunteer, call the Neighborhood Care Center 704-255-5500 or First Baptist Church 704-892-4701.