RALEIGH, N.C. -- Gray, rainy skies hang over the clouded minds of the tenants inside Morgan Street Food Hall.

What You Need To Know

  • Raleigh landlord waived rent for 20+ commercial tenants in his food hall.

  • Generosity allowed some businesses to stay open inside Morgan Street Food Hall and keep employees on.

  • April, May rent waived.

  • Tenants and landlord hoping for things to start picking up again when phase 2 allows them to welcome people inside, beginning Friday evening.

"Quite stressful, this whole situation with coronavirus," Hernan Moyano, owner of Makus Empanadas says.

The atmosphere hasn't been the same since March.

"Usually, chatter going on everywhere, lots of conversation, people talking, having business meetings," Greg Nelson, the owner of Iyla's Southern Kitchen says.  "It's been a ghost town. Just dead quiet."

Bad Cat Coffee Company was on its way to a record breaking month in March, before COVID-19 shut them down.

"Not having income coming in when you know you have rent coming in two weeks, it's terrifying." Traci Davis, the owner say.

But there was a ray of hope for Traci and 20 other tenants when the landlord called everyone together the day after the dining areas shut down.

"He says it's a war, we're going to band together. No rent. Everyone was so relieved," said Davis.

Niall Hanley is the owner of Hibernian Hospitality, which operates 10 venues, including the 20,000 square-foot food hall.

"Something as catastrophic as this, from a healthcare and economic standpoint the only thing you can equate it to is war. I guess it takes an extreme action. To me it was the right thing to do," Hanley says.

The generous gesture has helped tenants stay open and keep employees.

"Makus Empanadas hasn't closed one day. A big part is having rent forgiveness," Moyano says. "As you can imagine, sales went down tremendously."

With other financial obligations and businesses taking a hit, Hanley knows he can't keep this up.

"We're running out of options. We have to go back to work with precautions," Hanley says.

The return begins Friday evening when North Carolina enters part two of its phased reopening. 

Hanley and his tenants are not expecting things to go right back to the way they were, but hopefully some semblance of normal.

"I think 50 percent of the population will come out, 50 percent that won't.  Somewhere in the middle, hopefully there's a happy median," Hanley says.