If you thought Columbia was on lockdown Wednesday and Thursday due to the worst winter storm in a decade, you weren’t at Yesterday’s in Five Points.
“It was like St. Patrick’s Day in the middle of the week,” said Duncan MacRae, co-owner of the landmark restaurant and tavern. “We got wiped out.”
Yesterday’s, owned by MacRae and his brother, Scottie, from Lancaster, Penn., and Darrell Barnes of Lancaster, S.C., traditionally opens no matter the weather. The owners personally braved the snow and ice to pick up employees and bring them to work.
And then they hopped back in their pickups for trips to the U.S. Foods Chef’s Store along St. Andrews Road and Sam’s Club to restock “everything,” Duncan MacRae said, “from chicken to avocados to spices.”
Restaurants and grocery stores across the Midlands were rebooting after customers descended like locusts before, during and after the storm.
It wasn’t just bread and milk they were after.
“We’re going to run out of wine and beer for sure,” Gary Bell, specialty manager at EarthFare in Columbia, said Thursday afternoon. “And some of our delivery trucks haven’t been able to make it yet.”
Bell earned the nickname “Hard Working Gary Bell” after a photographer from The State caught him walking to work on Wednesday, even though the store was closed.
“I spent about two hours just answering the phone telling people we weren’t open yet,” Bell said.
Thirsty Fellow, a restaurant and pub located along Gadsden Street near Colonial Life Arena, opened at noon on Thursday and stayed busy until closing time.
Owner Willie Durkin based restaurant hours off of the University of South Carolina basketball game originally scheduled for Wednesday. The game, rescheduled for Thursday, was a rare hoops win for the Gamecocks.
“USC games bring in a lot of business and since they postponed the game until Thursday, we opened that afternoon,” Durkin said “We were busy from open till close on Thursday and we owe a lot of that business to the good relationship we have with the surrounding hotels.”
He said he was able to dodge the bullet when it came to supplies because he stocked up early in the week once inclement weather was forecast.
“We were stocked up with everything by Tuesday,” Durkin said. “I’ve owned bars for a while; the key is to anticipate needs.”
On Friday, stores were bustling as those who had stayed home for the past couple of days ventured forth to restore their pantries and to buy food and wine for Valentine’s Day dinners.
At the Piggly Wiggly on Devine Street, stock clerks were filling up shelves with bottled water, a category that had been decimated before and after the storm, eggs and other staples. At the same time, people behind on a Valentine’s Day gift buying mission were snapping up balloons, cards and flowers.
“It’s been a perfect storm,” co-operator Neil Myers said.