Leva Bonaparte’s Restaurants and How They’re Surviving COVID-19

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Leva Bonaparte may be Southern Charm‘s newest superstar, but she isn’t immune to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leva Bonaparte and husband Lamar operate some of the most popular bars and restaurants in Charleston, including Republic, Bourbon N’Bubbles, and Mesu, but as the pandemic continues to worsen, their businesses have taken a major hit, and now, Leva is opening up about how difficult the past few months have been. “We were all massacred in this city,” she told Bravo’s The Daily Dish. “It was terrifying. It was scary. It was stressful.”

Last night’s episode of Southern Charm offered viewers a glimpse into the early days of the pandemic, and subsequent episodes will follow the cast as they attempt to adjust to their new reality. Of course, things are quite different for Leva Bonaparte’s restaurants now, but that hasn’t stopped her from reliving those terrifying first few weeks. Are Leva Bonaparte’s restaurants surviving COVID-19? How are Leva Bonaparte’s businesses doing now? Here’s everything you need to know about this resilient Charleston restauranteur.

LEVA BONAPARTE RESTAURANTS SHUT DOWN: WHAT DID SOUTHERN CHARM SHOW?

On Thursday night, Southern Charm viewers watched as Leva struggled with the decision to temporarily close her restaurants as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly began to spread throughout the country in mid-March. During an emergency business meeting, Leva encouraged her employees to use hand sanitizer and worried aloud about the impact of the pandemic on tourism in Charleston. Ultimately, after much back and forth, Leva decided to close shop for an unknown amount of time, as so many business owners in the country were forced to do.

WHAT DID LEVA BONAPARTE’S BUSINESSES DO TO ADDRESS THE PANDEMIC?

In a new interview on Bravo’s The Daily Dish podcast, Leva revealed that in the early days of the pandemic, it felt like “death was in the air” for Charleston businesses. “It’s still like that in the city — so many things are shut down, we’re so lucky that we were able to sort of ride the wave,” she said. “Lamar and I were really aggressive as soon as things happened. It was like: furloughed everyone that we could, shut everything down, went to skeleton staff, you know, kind of shrewd about it, but that’s what allowed us to survive.”

Leva revealed that the day she furloughed “over a hundred employees” was so incredibly difficult that she “felt like her body was broken down,” but she had no choice. “Our staff is like family,” she said. “It was like being in a black hole, like, when’s the end? Is there an end in sight? What do we do? So, it was a very hard year, to say the least.”

HOW ARE REPUBLIC CHARLESTON AND OTHER LEVA BONAPARTE RESTAURANTS NOW?

Leva told The Daily Dish that due to the City of Charleston’s restrictions, her bars and restaurants are open at full capacity, but with reduced hours, as the South Carolina governor requires alcohol sales to stop at 11 p.m. “We are not thriving. But we’re surviving well, and… the biggest thing for us is just sanitization and making sure that we’re respecting the guidelines so that we don’t have an outbreak, which luckily we haven’t,” she said. “So we are able to continue doing business in a super sanitary, science-respecting environment, so to speak.”

Some of Leva’s businesses, including Republic and Bourbon N’ Bubbles, are even having New Year’s Eve parties, but given the shifting nature of the virus, that could change.

While they are moving forward, the businesses are still not where they were pre-pandemic. As Leva said, “Things are coming back, we’re doing OK, we’re doing good. But it’s not where we want to be.”

Southern Charm airs every Thursday at 9/8c on Bravo.

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