WARNER ROBINS -- When the federal government partially shut down this week, Ken McCall immediately felt the impact.
At his Watson Boulevard restaurant, McCalls Tastes to Remember, business dropped off by 50 percent after about 4,000 civilian workers from Robins Air Force Base were furloughed and sent home.
McCall, among the local restaurant owners near the base who depend heavily on patronage from federal employees, said he sent two of his workers home early Tuesday because of the steep drop in business.
Wednesday brought a better crowd, with business down about 30 percent. But McCall expects receipts may remain off by as much as half.
If people arent coming in and having lunch with us, that, of course, is dollars that were not generating, he said. In turn, I have to cut employee hours, which impacts what they get paid.
Richard Martin, owner of Martins BBQ on Armed Forces Boulevard directly across from Robins, said in spite of what appeared to be a brisk lunch business Wednesday, his sales have been down at least 20 percent the past two days.
Most of the people who come here for lunch work at the base, Martin said. If things are going fine at the base, were doing fine. If things arent fine at the base, things arent fine here.
John Mitchell, owner of Johns Mexican Restaurant, also on Armed Forces Boulevard, said he hasnt seen a dropoff in business yet, but he expects to feel the pinch from the furloughs.
He recalled the recent sequestration when thousands of base employees were furloughed every Friday for several weeks.
It was excruciating, Mitchell said.
Down the street, David Tran, manager of Monsoon Thai & Vietnamese Restaurant, said he had been concerned about the restaurants grand opening Tuesday, but the crowd was pretty good, he said.
He and the restaurants owner, both from Portland, Ore., took over the restaurant just two weeks ago. As a result, he said its hard to gauge the shutdowns impact.
However, Tran noted their interest in the restaurant was fueled by its location near the base.
Tran said hes hopeful the dinner crowd and offerings from the take-out menu will offset any loss of business from furloughs.
Mitchell, from the Mexican restaurant, said hes also hopeful the dinner crowd will help carry his restaurant. He noted that Johns Mexican Restaurant has been around since 1953 and that he has regular patrons from other midstate cities, not just those who work at Robins.
Meanwhile, McCall said he plans to promote his business with Facebook and offer specials in hopes of luring the lunch crowd his business relies on so heavily. Tastes to Remember isnt open in the evenings or on weekends.
I just wish Congress would get their act together and pass a budget so we can get back to our normal lives, McCall said.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.