WILMINGTON, N.C. — Aaron Hyatt has worked his way up in the P.T.'s Olde Fashioned Grille family from manager all the way to owner, but this past year has put his business to the test. The restaurant is one of the most popular in the Cape Fear area but Hyatt is quick to note that doesn't make them immune to the hardships everyone is facing.

“There was a time when we weren't sure if we were going to be able to get meat, I think we all got scared then that we might have to shut down,” says Hyatt.

Our Town America recently created a Small Business Resilience Award to be given out to the business that people felt had adapted the best and consistently maintained their quality of service, while ensuring customers and staff felt safe. P.T.'s Olde Fashioned Grille was nominated by locals, and then chosen by popular vote and received an overwhelming majority.

Hyatt says the award makes him feel like everything he and his employees have been through has been worth it. It's an honor from the community that acknowledges the hard work of the past months and makes all those bad days feel worth it.

“It shows that our hard work and adapting with this new work style hasn't gone unnoticed, so it makes you feel good,” says Hyatt.

Unfortunately, he says they're not out of the woods yet though. Business is still down 15-20% each month and he expects it will take another six months at the minimum to recover. Hyatt says he's fortunate that he's been able to keep all of his employees during the pandemic, but without their regular customers he says they would all be looking for new jobs.

“I feel like we're kind of frontline sometimes when people are having a bad day, they tend to take it out on us,” says Hyatt.

However, he hopes that friendly faces, good burgers and proven service can help people take a break from everything going on in the world outside.