Offices empty early, focus shifts to Monday

Bosses around metro Atlanta sent office workers home early and anxiously watched forecasts to decide whether to change store hours as the winter storm closed in on the region.

Some restaurants and smaller merchants closed early Friday, following the lead of local school systems and governments.

In Alpharetta, the Avalon mixed-use development was still open for normal business hours Friday as the first rains started to fall.

Popular bagel eatery Goldberg’s touted its take home casseroles on social media and in a news release to locals who might have been unable to find food at their nearby grocery stores. The release called the take-and-bake dishes as “Atlanta’s favorite Snowmeggedon meal.”

While customers picked grocery stores clean in advance of the storm, Home Depot reported a parallel push for stuff that would help residents cope with snow.

“Our stores have been busy with customers buying everything from ice melt to shovels,” spokesman Matthew Harrigan said. “Batteries, heaters – people are buying your typical winter weather supplies.”

The Atlanta-based chain had no plans to close stores, but will make decisions as the weather dictates, Harrigan said.

Cousins Properties, one of the city’s biggest office landlords, said its buildings, such as 3344 Peachtree in Buckhead and Promenade in Midtown, would maintain normal business hours, but tenants would decide their own schedules.

Cousins Senior Vice President Thad Ellis said Cousins staff “will be available throughout the weekend to ensure buildings are operating as normal and [to maintain] a safe environment to/from office buildings.”

Ellis said the focus was already moving to Monday’s morning rush.

“Given the prediction of freezing temperatures through mid-day Sunday, operational teams will have a focused attention on Sunday to prepare for Monday morning business hours,” he said.

Georgia Power said it was sending some employees home at 2 p.m. Friday. Equifax, the Atlanta-based credit reporting company, closed its headquarters at 1:30 pm.

— Michael E. Kanell and Russell Grantham contributed to this article.