EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — Small business owners need a high-five and a salute for staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the Today and St. Louis team recognized Big Mama's BBQ in East St. Louis.
Owner Craig Hunter has seen it all during COVID: Indoor dining bans, a thriving catering business shutdown, staffing shortages and meat prices skyrocketing.
"Prices of the product have doubled, tripled...so all restaurants including myself are having a difficult time because it cost so much more for our product," said Hunter. "Just an example, a case of chicken wings that used to cost me $70 are $140/$150 right now."
Hunter, who has been in business for more than 20 years, said the dive-thru window and his loyal customers allowed him to stay open.
"They came out full force and supported us. They weren't going to let us fall down. I appreciate them and thank all my clientele because without them we'd be gone, we'd be closed," Hunter said.