MINT HILL, NC – After an eight-week shutdown due to COVID-19, J-Bird’s Burger Jointe is back in business!
“We’re pretty much a brick and mortar,” says Owner John Benjamin Franklin Woods IV, better known to locals as “J-Bird.” “We closed when they said that you had to go home and you couldn’t have anybody inside the building.”
For J-Bird, shutting down while other restaurants pivoted to curbside and takeout models was a no-brainer that he doesn’t regret. “I didn’t want any of my people to get sick,” he says. “Bottom line. And none of my people have been sick, and nobody that knows me or any of my girls got sick, so I feel like we did the right thing.”
The decision to reopen on May 5 had a lot to do with his employees. “The girls said they wanted to come back to work,” says J-Bird. He looked to other companies who were operating successfully during the pandemic – like Chick-fil-A – for tips on how to keep his employees and customers safe.
The decision to reopen also had a lot to do with demand. During the stay at home order, J-Bird noticed that fast food places with drive-through windows were packed at lunchtime. “I and my little girl built that take out window in my garage,” J-Bird says, gesturing to the new add-on structure that allows customers to drive or walk up to retrieve their orders while refraining from entering the restaurant or having direct contact with the staff.
It’s a different way of doing business for J-Bird, who’s used to packing the Burger Jointe with customers on Saturday mornings. “This place on a Saturday? You can’t get in here, people are waiting outside elbow to elbow, and we’re looking forward to that,” says J-Bird. Meanwhile, he’s adjusting the menu to convenient items that work for takeout, like breakfast sandwiches instead of pancakes. “When you get home twenty minutes later and you’re eating out of a styrofoam box, it doesn’t taste the same as if you were sitting right there and I brought it out steaming,” he adds.
Although the May 8th move into Phase One has put North Carolina on a slow path to reopening the economy, J-Bird sees a long road ahead of him as we ease into a new normal. Phase Two will allow restaurants to open at a limited capacity, but that’s a difficult feat for a place as small as J-Bird’s. With a maximum capacity of 48, opening at 25% capacity would only allow J-Bird to have 12 people in the restaurant at a time – not nearly enough to make a profit, especially given the rising costs of meat. “We’ve got a lot of other issues coming with the chicken plants closing down, hamburger plants closing down,” says J-Bird. “Case of meat I bought a week ago would have cost me $140 cost me $300 Sunday.”
But for now, J-Bird and his team are making it work. “This is working out pretty good right now! Heck, it might be what this place always needed,” says J-Bird, gesturing to the makeshift takeout window. “I don’t know. We’re gonna take a swing at it and see what happens. This is a local place, and I feel truly blessed to live where I do and to be open today.”
“I’d like to give a special thank you to Mike Cochrane, John Klein, and Lin and Jill Hollow,” says J-Bird. “They all went out of their way to make sure I could open my doors a week ago. If it weren’t for people like this in Mint Hill, my little place would probably be closed. And above all, I want to thank the Lord. Without Him, I wouldn’t be where I am, so thank you and amen!”
J-Bird’s Burger Jointe is open for takeout Tuesday through Saturday from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Call (704) 545-1932 to place your order, and watch their social media for updates and specials!