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A shout-out to small businesses: Big Mama's BBQ in East St. Louis

During the month of May, Today in St. Louis is featuring small businesses working to stay open despite problems caused by the pandemic

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.