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Loyal customers kept this Stockton restaurant alive 27 years. Coronavirus won't stop them now.

Bud's Seafood Grille is a rarity in the restaurant world, celebrating a 27th anniversary. Their loyal customers brought them this far and won't let them down now.

STOCKTON, Calif. — In Stockton, Bud's Seafood Grille is celebrating its 27th anniversary in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

William "Bud" Millsaps, owner of restaurant, said 27 years ago on April 1, but, in all 27 years, Millsaps has never found himself in a position like this.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant can only do to-go orders, which makes this anniversary a rough one as they try to stay afloat.

"I miss that part of it because it's like it's been taken from us," he said.

The restaurant industry is notorious for slim profit lines and high turnover, so a near three decade career with a family-owned business is no easy feat. 

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"You just earn that trust and loyalty through service and everything you do for the community... and all of the staff. And, you build it over a period of years," he said.

Now, it's those same customers he spent all that time working to gain, that are helping to keep his business keeping his livelihood alive with to-go orders.

"It's heartwarming, because I do just wonder, 'is anyone going to come in? With all of this going on?', he said. "And, they are! They're loyal. We have some very, very loyal customers," he said.

Many customers even thank him daily for staying open.

"That's what really gets me, because it makes me feel proud," he said.

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For Doug Wilhoit, CO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, it speaks volumes of what the people of Stockton are capable of.

"When there's been a time of need, the people of Stockton step to the plate and supported their community, supported their neighbors and supported their loved ones, and that's what they're showing of Bud and Jeannie," Wilhoit said.

That support is why he believes most Stockton restaurants will come out of this situation.

"We improvise, adapt and overcome, the old marine saying. So, what we're doing as a society in Stockton, as a community, as a state and as a nation, is improvising, adapting and overcome. And, we shall overcome," he said.

Bud says the restaurant will be ready to fully re-open as soon as officials give them the okay. The only real question for him is how he'll thank all the people who supported him along the way.

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