"We're just trying to survive with what we have," said Weidmann's Restaurant Owner William McGee.
Tough economic times are pounding Weidmann's Restaurant in Meridian.
"We're all suffering," said McGee.
Owner and Chef William McGee says the economic downtown is not a unique situation to his business that's located on 22nd Avenue as every food and retail business in America is feeling the effects. He says Weidmann's is an upscale restaurant with a niche audience. But this fine dining restaurant, with upscale taste and prices, may be between a rock and a hard place. McGee says he's had to cut corners, downsize, and restructure to stay afloat.
"We started off with 25 cooks in the kitchen, now I have myself and one other," said McGee.
McGee says the business reopened in 2002 under his leadership. In 2005, Weidmann's received an award for fine dining, but McGee says the downturn started in 2007. McGee says a huge chuck of business was lost when pharmaceutical companies and local hospitals scaled back in budgetary spending, cutting out company dinners which was nearly 50 percent of the restaurants business.
"We used to do lunches, catering to the hospitals, 1500 hundred people at the state hospital, Anderson's, Riley, Regency's, all those been cut out," McGee said.
And that has raised concern among the Alliance for the Downtown Meridian and Chairman Barbaree Heaster recently sent out a mass e-mail encouraging residents to eat there at least once a week in efforts to rally community support.
In the e-mail, Heaster said quote, "We can't let one of Meridian's fine and historic restaurants close."
McGee says there is a lot of history within these walls as the the restaurant open in the late 1800's and carries the Weidmann's family name. But McGee says he realizes with the current recession, everyone is pinching their pennies.
He says there are nightly specials and the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 in the evening to 10 at night. McGee says he tried opening during lunch hours but it wasn't profitable.
But he says despite the current situation, he will stick it out as he believes in the Weidmann's name, the history, and he's hoping the future will look better.
"As long as Meridian will have us, we will stay," said McGee.