BELMONT, N.C. -- Police are investigating an armed robbery outside a popular restaurant in the busy, and typically safe, downtown area of Belmont.

According to Belmont police, the robbers held two employees of The String Bean at gunpoint outside the restaurant Tuesday night.

Nate Helton, a manager at The String Bean, told NBC Charlotte he and a co-worker had just closed and left the restaurant through the back door. They saw the two gunmen coming around the storage building, through an open path area.

The big guy had a gun and he just hit Scott with it, before saying anything to him, just hit him in the head with the gun, recalled Helton, then the smaller guy came at me. I put my hands up and backed away. They told me to get on the ground. They put guns up to our heads, cussing and everything.

The two robbers took the employee's cell phones and wallets. The other employee was treated by paramedics on scene after the pistol-whipping. He is expected to be fine.

The restaurant is increasing security because of the robbery.

It's never happened to you before, so you think you're good. You're in downtown Belmont, the Police Department is a mile away. Who would want to mess with us? questioned Helton.

Officers are increasing patrols in the area. The acknowledged a crime like this happening in the downtown area is extremely rare.

If you have any information on the robbery, you're asked to call Belmont police.

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