|Cocktail from Delta’s Restaurant in New Brunswick, NJ (Glenn Townes photo)|
By Glenn Townes
Joshua Suggs, the owner of the popular upscale bar and restaurant Delta’s (www.deltasrestaurant.com) in New Brunswick, NJ, was treated for and survived an outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus in March, he disclosed earlier this week during a virtual webinar hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ).
Suggs, 48, said he went to his physician in March after experiencing a severe fever, chest pains and extreme lethargy. “I thought maybe I just had a bad cold or had the aftereffects from a recent dental visit,” he said. After an initial diagnosis of double pneumonia, Suggs tested positive for the coronavirus. His fever hovered at 104 degrees for more than a week. His breathing was labored and painful. His body ached and appetite was minimal. “I lost 18 pounds,” he said. He was treated with the drug hydroxychloroquine—which, during the early stages of the pandemic was touted as an effective treatment, but has since been mostly dismissed as a cure-all for the virus. Suggs was quarantined while in the hospital. “I was isolated in the basement of my home after I was released from the hospital,” said the father of three young daughters. “It was tough not seeing my kids and being away from the business for 3 weeks.”
The entrepreneur is now the sole proprietor of the epicurean empire he opened back in December 1999 with his former wife, Coretta. The pandemic gobsmacked a small business that had been a staple to the mostly African-American upscale professional crowd of the central New Jersey college town for more than 20 years. The business has been closed since mid-March and will likely not re-open until the middle or end of June–dependent upon Gov. Phil Murphy’s mandated state shutdown.
Fortunately, a mostly debt free past, loyal employees and customers, and first hand experience in weathering past crisis like Hurricane Sandy, flooding and extended power outages, Suggs said he has personally rebounded and so will his business. Many of his employees are able to collect unemployment benefits and the business received approval for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The program enables businesses economically impacted by COVID-19 to receive interest free loans and/or grants to small businesses. The loans are forgiven if the business retains its employees on the company payroll for eight weeks.
“Delta’s will be revved up and ready to go,” he said. “When I reopen, I want as few restrictions as possible and new sanitation demands in place for the safety of my employees and customers,” he said.