With Arkansas now in Phase 2, dine-in service may continue with seating increased to up to 66 percent of total seating capacity and Lucky's is meeting that maximum capacity on a daily basis.

Restaurants have been uniquely affected by COVID-19 but one local restaurant has been fortunate to stay afloat, thanks to loyal customers.

Lucky’s Café, located at 310 E. 5th Street in downtown Pine Bluff, is known for its friendly atmosphere and their home cooked plate lunches serving crowds since May of 2017.

When the pandemic hit Pine Bluff in March what restaurant owner Sherry Ricketts thought would be a business’s owner’s nightmare actually became a movement of community love and appreciation.

“We received several phone calls from businesses and people in the area wanting to know if we were going to open,” said Ricketts who closed her restaurant for five days to regroup.

Rickett explained in the beginning of reopening, clientele didn’t resume immediately.

“It took us about two weeks to get the word out in Pine Bluff that we were open,” said Rickett.

With the limited capacity of 33 percent, Rickett said a lot of her customers weren’t happy with the stipulations.

“We are following every guideline that we can and I know it’s not pleasing to a lot of them but they are actually trying to subside to where we need them to be for our doors to be open,” said Rickett who was thankful she didn’t have to apply for a small business loan. “There was a few times we had to tell them either they can wait outside in their vehicles. Some would leave and some would stay and wait. They wanted to eat here and we were proud of that.”

Restaurant manager Dale Burlison added it was an adjustment for both customers and the staff.

According to ADH all staff who come in contact with patrons must wear a face mask that completely covers their nose and mouth. Staff in the back are encouraged to wear a face mask.

A sign is also posted at the entrance of the door requiring everyone who enters to have a mask on.

What lacked in dine-in in Phase 1 picked up in to-go orders as Burlison describes the similarities to Sonic Drive-Inn.

“We were going through boxes and cases of orders. It was the outpouring of love,” he said. “We had people point out that it looked like Sonic outside because we had people lined up around our restaurant in their cars and we would take their orders out to them.”

In the beginning Rickett said free delivery was offered to their customers at home and their businesses as a courtesy but now since business is flowing steadily, she has had to alter her delivery options.

“The coronavirus wasn’t their fault or ours and we didn’t want to put anything extra on our customers,” said Rickett. We delivered to homes and businesses in the beginning then when we were able to open up to 1/3 we cut it back to just businesses but now we are rolling to the point that we are not able to deliver. That’s where we wanted to be so that’s good.”

With Arkansas now in Phase 2, dine-in service may continue with seating increased to up to 66 percent of total seating capacity and Lucky’s is meeting that maximum capacity on a daily basis.

Lucky’s is open Monday – Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rickett expressed her sincere gratitude to her customers that continued to support her business, even in the pandemic.

“We have people from all over, Red Field, Jefferson County, Dumas, Star City, that travel here to have lunch with us,” said Rickett. “They’ll have engagements with other people and have lunch with us, that we are very proud of and without Pine Bluff backing this place I wouldn’t be here as long as I am here already but during the epidemic they have really showed us love.”

Rickett doesn’t want the pandemic stop people from enjoying their favorite comfort foods and she is thankful that so far customers are still coming through the door appreciative.

“They thank us daily for being here and for us it makes us want to come back and open the doors early and want to be able to serve them,” said Rickett. “We appreciate Pine Bluff and the surrounding areas so much.”