RALEIGH, N.C. — Restaurants and retail businesses are facing a uphill battle this holiday season amid COVID-19 restrictions. 

It’s a careful balance between keeping their doors open while also providing a safe environment for staff and customers. 

“This is very different. Everything has been changing a lot,” said  Donaldo Guzman, executive chef at Sitti in Raleigh.

For the first time ever, chef Guzman created a traditional Lebanese Thanksgiving package for customers and demand has been high. 

“It was shocking because by Friday, we sold out. I figured it out with my vendors, tried to get more ingredients so we extend more of the packages, and the next day we sold out again,” Guzman said.

Greg Hatem, owner of several restaurants in downtown Raleigh including Sitti, says they wanted to provide meals, but in a safe manner. With the possibility of less people holding large family events this holiday, the restaurants are including packages for one to two people.

“We are doing smaller packages because it is a safer way to dine,” Hatem said. “At the same time, we want people to have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We also and more importantly, we want them to be safe.”

Chef Guzman says if he can create a little bit of home for those who may not be able to go home this year, then he’s done his job. 

“My goal is to match what moms, grandmas can do at home. If I can even get closer to what they do at home, that’s amazing for me,” Guzman said.