April 6, 2020

A-Month-In-Photos March 2020

By: John A. Carlos II

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A house in Forest Acres hangs a banner reminding people to wash their hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.



I considered not even doing a post this month, I was going to just post a picture with the words canceled in bold on a white background. But then I decided to do something, even though I might not get paid to do it.


I'm not going to sugar coat this past month it was crazy, March and the other spring months always are. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be, 1/5 or more of my calendar was canceled. Usually, people emerge from winter ready to take on the world... and have a little fun, 2020 had other ideas. After the NCAA decided to cancel all Winter and Spring sports I knew I was going to have a tough year. These sports have made a big portion of my yearly income, over the past couple of years. Needless to say, I've been taking many photos, I wanted to do more but found that I've been hamstring with a bit of fear and indecisive. I don't really how to cover this event in an interesting way. Sean Rayford interviewed me for his COVID-19 story. So that took an option away from me, although now that I think about it; that might have been getting to close to people for my wife to handle. So, what I decided to do was interview and photograph people working through these trying times.


But enough about me, I know that we are all in the same boat bailing out the water as fast as we can. 


John A. Carlos II

Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia has set up a tent as an extra level of caution.

John A. Carlos II / Special to The Post and Courier


John A. Carlos II

Derreck Becker chief of public information & external affairs monitors COVID-19 news in the public information room at the state emergency operation center on March 15, 2020. John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post & Courier


John A. Carlos II

Gov. Henry McMaster gives updates on the state’s preparedness for COVID-19 at the state emergency operation center on March 15, 2020.

John A. Carlos II/Special to The Post & Courier


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Photos from Keg Cowboy on March 19, 2020

Keg Cowboy


Brian Nelson Chef and owner of Keg Cowboy, he told me that when his taps got switched off that you lost 60% of your overall business, Keg Cowboy is regularly around 60% Beer and 40% food.

I see people nervous, sad, scared. We're not getting clear information. Information changes by the hour. No one knows what they can or can not do, not in a clear way. I can make this week's payroll. I don't know about next." 

"My guys are showing up for free, some of them. I have seen established places, like The Fat Hen in Charleston, close full stop. My family is worried...worried about the business, worried about me, worried about their livelihood. We will always eat and drink well, some don't worry about that. We worry whether we will be able to see to eat because the lights are off, or if we have to sit in the rain because we couldn't make rent. Real worries. We are staying open, I am taking bread orders because the stores are out. "

"We are ordering from other bars and restaurants, and tipping over the top to whomever hands us our go-bag because they need it. I have something we are working on, paying loaves of bread forward. more details on that, we need a conversation..." Nelson said.  

As a service to the community Keg Cowboy has started a Loaf it Forward Program, aimed to help people that can't get or afford a loaf of bread. The program works like this buy your bread, pay for another loaf, put your name (or not) on a sticky note, and when someone comes in needing or wanting a loaf you grab a sticky note off the wall and a loaf, no questions asked. 



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Photos from TKO's Grill and New Brookland Tavern on March 20, 2020

John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times


TKO's Grill and New Brookland Tavern


When I talked to Carlin Thompson, the Sound Engineer/Talent Broker at NBT, he was organizing merch to sell online.  Most of the service industry is skydiving without knowing if their pack has a chute or not. Event spaces, like New Brookland Tavern, have been hit particularly hard.  "The plan now is to do live streaming every other day to keep moving forward. We also are allowing bands to record here as well."


"Since the closures, all I have seen is a fellow service industry in a panic due to loss of income and I'm right there with them. The reality has set in and it sucks. Praying for business from a To-go or delivery just to hope I can make a paycheck to cover my basic living expenses is something I was not expecting. The only positive I see to this quarantine is slowing the spread of the virus, other than that I can only see the negatives of this situation. I do understand that quarantines have to be done, I'm supportive of it because I don't want any of my loved ones or my friends loved ones losing their life due to COVID-19. Also to the companies that are working with people who've lost their jobs and helping them, thank you. To the greedy scumbag companies that don't understand MOST OF US HAVE LOST OUR INCOME a big ol' 🖕🖕🖕" - TY Rowe Chef at TKO's Grill 



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Photos from Curiosity Coffee Bar on March 20, 2020


Curiosity Coffee Bar


Curiosity Coffee is your typical coffee house, usually, you'd see people sitting down with their computers or a book to enjoy their coffee but since the take out, only measures have been in place Owner Greg Slattery has thought of ways to keep moving forward and coming up with ways to help the communities.


"COVID-19 became a virus that required us all to social distance we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how the city operates and have had to make changes. Rather than close up, we decided to offer online orders with curbside delivery options which helped us tremendously. As things have gotten more dire, we’ve been looking for more ways to help our community. We now have added items we have had access to through wholesalers like US Foods and Sysco to add a bodega-style list of household items such as flour, sugar, pasta, gloves, paper towels, and bleach." 


“There has been a huge outpouring of support. Beyond that though, it took some — and I think this happens with life in general, pandemic or no pandemic. But when you're sort of put up against the wall, you get creative or you die. And in this case, overnight we've created an online ordering platform which was instated two days ago, that provides people the opportunity to order in advance and those that feel, justifiably, unsafe, entering public buildings, we can bring it out Curbside."



John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times

A couple walks into Cantina 76 to order take out at on March 20, 2020.



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Lula Drake Wine Parlour gave takeout a try before ceasing operation on March 26.

John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times



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Photos from Bodhi Thai on March 20, 2020

Bodhi Thai


Chef Nivit Tipvaree works with his family members in a small kitchen of a converted bank at Bodhi Thai of Lexington. Nothing has changed on his menu, he is putting the gourmet into takeout he is still putting the same care, vision, and presentation into every Tupperware container leaving his kitchen. 


"The hardest part has been seeing the empty dining room, but the to-go orders have been steady." 



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Photos from TrustUs Theater on March 21, 2020

TrustUs Theatre


"Theatre is inherently a communal activity. From production meetings at the top of a process to rehearsals, and to that beautiful moment when audiences convene to share in the storytelling – theatre is an art form that requires collaboration and collective participation. So in a time when group gatherings are cautioned against (or prohibited) due to dangerous stakes, it is our duty to be responsible and put things on hold. However, the consequences create challenging circumstances. Sixty percent of Trustus’ operating budget comes from the earned income of ticket sales. With no shows to sell tickets to, we are now dependent upon contributed income (our awesome community of supporters) and federal relief. It’s an uncertain time, but we are sure that there’s light at the end of this tunnel. While it breaks our hearts to postpone mission-serving programs like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Fairview, we are certain that it’s the best decision for our audiences and our artists. I have been in contact with other performing arts leaders in our state and community, and we’re all hopeful that the summer will present us with the occasion to get back to work. What can people expect once theatres are back to producing their work? I would suspect that folks will be in a heightened creative state – perhaps even refreshed in their artistry. I think a lot of theatres will be producing work that endeavors to lift us up after a long and hard period of fear and caution. I think many venues will have to cut costs in regards to production materials (scenery, costumes, lighting, etc.), and that will require new and stimulating approaches from talented design artists. Our theatre spaces are dark, unoccupied, and missing the energy of a group of artists telling stories to an audience that craves them. However, the lights will come back on again, and when they do – communities of artists all over the country will be bringing uplifting and healing work to their stages. Trustus will be no different."


- Chad Henderson, Producing Artistic Director at TrustUs Theatre


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Photos from Capital Karate on April 3, 2020



Capital Karate


"As a martial arts school owner/small business owner we have had a huge impact due to COVID-19. We immediately took our classes into an online teaching format, which had a huge learning curve for both us to figure out and for our students to adapt to. About 2/3 of our income was immediately cut due to not being able to run camps, our after school programs, birthday parties and parent night out events.  We are also getting far more students either canceling their programs or their credit cards being declined than normal. We have started to promote online training last week and did enroll 3 new students this way, and will really be pushing that in the coming weeks. We know it will not come anywhere near replacing our lost income but will help offset some of the losses. I am doing everything in my power to keep my full-time staff working and paid on their normal schedule, and just praying that the government SBA loans and grants come through as promised.  I know for certain a percentage of small businesses will not survive this shutdown and will cause trickling effects for well over a year.  We are working to put together a number of free online community events to continue our outreach, we have not launched them yet to see their success, but hoping to be well received.  Being at home has been good as far as being able to eat healthier than I have ever done in the past. As well as having the time to start several projects that have been on the someday list. We had several big shows we were planning on seeing that got canceled as well as a number of conferences and even one of my closest friends' weddings. We keep moving forward, but are finding constant new challenges that we were not expecting."


- Micheal Bank Owner of Capital Karate



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Photos from The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli on March 20, 2020


The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli


“The speed in which this all happened, happened so quickly for restauranteurs and restaurant owners we went from practicing safe distancing and extra sanitizing to eliminating 60% of our staff, to being just pick up only, to rethinking our whole structure in case this lasted for a longer period of time. To now shutting down permanently for a little while two completely retool our business, to handle delivery services like Bite Squad and GrubHub…. So this has all happened to us in the course of two weeks.” “I’ve spoken to other restaurant owners, that are in the same boat that we are, and there are owners that have just completely shut down… Which has been deviating to their community, but it has been completely devastating to their staff.” “Yesterday we went back in the shop and we cooked off 150 cinnamon rolls for a doctor at PRISMA Health picked them up to start do you delivering them to all their healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors over there. And he will be picking up another order on Wednesday we gearing back up for them, to help try and keep morale up and happy… they’re at the front line for us. So we are trying to do anything that we can to help all the doctors and nurses, we also are trying to do whatever we can so that our staff can survive this… we spent all day trying to set up unemployment benefits for them, as well we thought up a long term plan… whether this is going to be lasting two months or six months, we’re trying to figure out just like a hospital we're trying to triage this and see who can survive, who lives at home who has another person with income… and the people that can't survive, how we can help them through this time, while still securing enough income that we can keep ourselves afloat to reopen when this is all behind us.” The doctor says the cinnamon rolls, does a lot for the morale, he said that it sounds them from negative to like super happy, we’ve had some customers that have walked by just see if we are open and we hand them whatever cinnamon rolls we have. I had a gentleman yesterday that told me this is the only sense of normalcy that he has in his life right now. That’s the biggest thing about the restaurant community is that it brings people a sense of normalcy, community, fellowship… that its literally part of the fabric that holds communities together. Small Mom and Pop restaurants have a different flavor, they're different from a chain restaurant they make you feel like you're a part of a community, you see the people from your neighborhood in there. Like every weekend we have people from the Shanon and all different parts around five points, come in there and are shouting across the room saying hi and shaking hands you know it's a whole sense of community. And I know that all these small businesses have that, a sense of that whole Columbia community. I’ve had people of every race, religions every political background and when they come into my restaurant I tell them all the same thing Food and Community is our common bond and that everything can be talked about over a plate of food or sit there having your favorite cinnamon roll, our motto for our deli changing the world one cinnamon roll at a time… that's on our menus but I feel like every restaurant has that same motto, whether it's a cinnamon roll or a slice of pizza or a taco, you know we're all trying to bring joy to people, and that makes them happy when they're eating something that in an environment that makes them happy with their community and that's something that can't be replaced with FaceTime or video chat or delivery, It's that sense of breaking bread with your neighbor. Jody Kreush told me that The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli is putting in a new hood system so that they can put in more grills to be more efficient and make it possible to do delivery services. “When you have a line of people, they’re willing to wait In that line for an hour, we run snacks out to the line, we run out drinks out to the line, we keep them entertained when you're doing what we’re anticipating doing the volume that comes with deliveries those other services we don't have that luxury. So we have to get the restaurant ready to adapt to what we might be doing for the next six months of deliveries through Bite Squad and GrubHub.


I asked Jodie Kreush if she thought this could be a positive step for the business when this whole COVID thing blows over.


“We think that with this new hood system and new equipment we think that we will be able to accommodate both, so we’ll see, because The Cinnamon Roll Deli has very loyal customers, and we might be inundated with people in the first month with people that want to get out again…. But we think yeah, that we're evolving with this situation and this might be something that we permanently keep added to our venue… with this new equipment, I think we will be able to do that… We're trying to make the most out of this downtime that we have while still helping our employees get through it”


“Columbia has a really great sense of community it’s a city with a small-town feel to it… Columbia feels more like a community, where everyone is in it together and wants to help everyone out.”



John A. Carlos II / Special to The Free Times

A lizard crawls on along the back fence at New Brookland Tavern on March 20, 2020.


Hang in there y'all, stay safe 🦠 and clean... I'll see you guys soon.

And please wash 🧼 your hands.



Keywords: South Carolina; above the fold; editorial; news; journalism; 2019; photojournalist; photojournalism; photographer; SC photographer; Columbia; Columbia SC Photojournalist; soda city; basketball; COVID-19; St. Pat's; 5pts; baseball; sports photographer; sports; events; Theather; cinnamon rolls; deli; karate; first responders; medical; Lexington medical center; Henry McMaster; governor; lizard; Keg Cowboy; Chad Henderson; Jody Kreush; theatre; Michael Bank; 


Article & Photos by John A. Carlos II Copyright 2019 www.jac2photo.com



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