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Living through COVID-19, Part X

Back to the airport

James Cook arrived at Memphis International Airport at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday (June 10).

No, he was not scheduled to catch an early morning flight. He had to get ready to reopen his Lenny’s Grill and Subs. He closed the restaurant – one of two he operated there – in mid-March after the number of passengers passing through the airport nosedived because of the new coronavirus.

He had planned to reopen Monday, but he said airport officials wanted to do a walk through first. So, he spent Monday and Tuesday preparing to reopen.

At 5 a.m., Cook and two employees opened for business.

How did it go? “It went well. We had about 80 customers” before closing at noon.”

He said most of the customers were passengers but, given the dearth of food options, airport employees also were glad he reopened.

Until passenger traffic picks up more, Cook said he will close at noon daily.

“This is just day one. We will continue to monitor (the passenger traffic) and see how it goes” in an effort to determine when it is feasible to extend the restaurant’s operating hours.

Cook said his other airport business, Runway 901 Bar & Grill, will remain closed, although he is considering reopening the restaurant’s bar if passenger traffic continues on the uptick.

After he closed his restaurants, Cook went to work for another Lenny’s franchisee and helped with his father’s landscaping business.

When The New Tri-State Defender caught up with him Wednesday afternoon, he was cutting grass.

Reminded that he said last week he was going to fully concentrate on his Lenny’s, he laughed and said, “The grass still needs to be cut.”

 Service, education and fun

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, spent Wednesday morning and early afternoon helping to distribute food baskets at a South Memphis church.

The effort was in sponsorship with the Mid-South Food Bank, which provided produce for the baskets.

The giveaways have become a regular endeavor for Cowan as a way to keep her nonprofit engaged and to give back to the community.

Meanwhile, Cowan is working to finish her associate’s degree in general studies with plans to enroll in the Accelerated Studies for Adults and Professionals Program at LeMoyne-Owen College to earn a bachelor’s degree.

And, thanks to a $500 donation to her nonprofit, Cowan is working on staging a “Sunday Fun Day” with her moms and their children at Shelby Farms.

 Things are slow

William Gandy Jr. sprays his barber’s chair. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises)

Things have really slowed down for barber William Gandy Jr., so he has been spending some of this time promoting his new song “Corona, Corona.”

He had one customer scheduled for Wednesday, but that person cancelled.

He said a lot of his customers have not returned because of COVID-19 fears or they are viewing YouTube videos to learn how to trim their hair.

(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

Living through COVID-19, Part IX


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