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Living through COVID-19, Part IX

Back to the airport

James Cook (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises)

James Cook plans to reopen his Lenny’s Grill and Subs at Memphis International Airport Monday (June 8).

The eatery will initially open on a reduced schedule from 5 a.m. to noon, but he anticipates eventually opening on a full schedule.

Cook had to close his two businesses in Memphis International Airport – Runway 901 Bar & Grill and the Lenny’s – in March because of a lack of airport passenger traffic caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

Since then, he has been working with his father’s landscaping business and working for another Lenny’s franchisee.

Cook decided to reopen at the airport because of an uptick in passenger traffic. He also plans to reopen Runway 901’s bar.

Glen Thomas, the airport’s director of Strategic Marketing & Communications/PIO, said in an email Wednesday (June 3) the airport has “seen a slow but steady increase in passengers over the past few weeks.

“The Friday before Memorial Day was our busiest day since March 17, with more than 1,900 passengers and employees screened. We are still down by more than 80 percent compared to 2019 at this time, but traffic is increasing.”

It has become clear over the past weeks that Cook has a fierce entrepreneurial spirit and likes being his own boss.

Although he appreciates the other Lenny’s franchisee giving him the opportunity to provide for his family, he will be glad to be working for himself once again.

“I’ve never seen my father or stepfather working for anyone,” he said. “I’m trying to leave something for my children.”

 “Corona, Corona”

William Gandy Jr.’s “Corona, Corona” puts the pandemic in musical context. (Courtesy photo)

After an initial rush of customers eager to get a haircut when barber and beauty shops were allowed to reopen last month, things have slowed a bit for barber William Gandy Jr.

That was not unexpected, he said. “A lot of my clients, who are older, still are afraid to come out.”

This has allowed him to spend more time on his music, including composing a song about the virus, titled “Corona Corona.”

A virus-related helping hand

Margaret Cowan

Margaret Cowan, founding keeper of I Am My Sister’s Keeper, a nonprofit that works with single, working mothers to increase their earning potential, has been busy honing her nonprofit expertise and helping her moms.

About 20 women are in the group.

When The New Tri-State Defender last checked two weeks ago, she was trying to find temporary housing for one of her “moms,” whose mother had contracted the COVID-19 virus.

With the help of her pastor, Cory Jackson of New Covenant Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southwest Memphis, the young mother and her 2-year-old daughter were able to live in an Olive Branch hotel for two weeks until her mother recovered.

Meanwhile, Cowan said another one of her “moms” created T-shirts for the group, featuring the nonprofit’s logo.

And, thanks to some hustle and donations, Cowan was able to create “essential boxes” for her moms. The boxes contained food stuffs, cleaning essentials and other items.

 (Jerome Wright is deputy editor for The New Tri-State Defender.)


Maneuvering through the perils of COVID-19

Living through COVID-19: A trio of profiles – Part II

Living through COVID-19: A trio of profiles – Part III

Living through COVID-19 — Part IV

Living through COVID-19: A trio of profiles – Part V

Living through COVID-19: Part VI

Living through COVID-19: Part VII 

Living through COVID-19, Part VIII


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